Environmental Leaders Share 3 Traits

Environmental Leaders Share 3 Traits

Lauren Rakowski August 23, 2010
This study identifies traits and leadership styles of leaders in environmental organizations. Managers looking to effect environmental change in their organization should choose leaders who promote the welfare of other people and the environment, motivate change within the company and can perform diverse leadership roles.


Studies have shown that environmental leaders' personal and environmental values are key to creating a corporate vision and providing the guidance and motivation to effect environmental change. This study expands on previous research by exploring the specific values, personality characteristics, and behaviours of leaders in both non-profit environmental organizations and for-profit environmental product and service organizations.


Environmental leaders have personality characteristics of other effective leaders, but also have a distinct set of values and leadership behaviours: 

Implications for Managers

Choose environmental leaders with specific characteristics. Leaders should:
In general, effective leaders should:

Implications for Researchers

Further research could explore whether these findings apply to leadership in other sectors and beyond North America.


This research uses data from interviews with 73 leaders of environmental organizations in Canada and the United States from June 1995 to September 1996. There were 38 for-profit businesses and 33 non-profit organizations that participated in the study.  These data were used to develop a model of environmental leadership.
Egri, Carolyn, & Herman, Susan. (2000). Leadership in the North American Environmental Sector: Values, Leadership Styles, and Contexts of Environmental Leaders and their Organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 43(4): 571-604. 

additional resources

Reports and Articles

NBS reviewed the best management research from around the world and discovered the five rules for becoming a sustainability leader. For your company to be a...

Reports and Articles

Explore 2012’s most popular Thought Leader posts.