Principles for Transformational Leadership on Climate Change


At a recent, FRACTAL-led training session in Windhoek select decision-makers and Councillors co-produced a set of principles for transformational leadership on climate change. Jess Kavonic, a FRACTAL researcher based at ICLEI Africa described this style of leadership, saying:

“A transformational leader is one that challenges the dynamics that created the problem in the first place as well as builds capacities to be able to deal with and support the change the leader and situation is asking for.”

It has long been discussed that in building city resilience, it is important for decision makers to look beyond only sustainability and also towards transformation. However, transformation is a complex process with multiple phases. It involves breaking down what is not working while at the same time building up a system that can accept the changes that are needed. Due to its complexity, there is a need to foster transformational leaders who are able to tackle the numerous tasks required for planning and designing resilient, climate smart cities.

The decision-makers and Councillors at FRACTAL’s training session discussed the transformation process and heard inspirational adaptation case studies. Together they outlined the principles for transformational leadership that they felt should be prioritised:

  • Encourage proactive and visionary planning
  • Be systems thinkers
  • Improve co-ordination
  • Explore and support innovative and accessible technology
  • Mould behaviour and a different way of thinking
  • Create awareness on the issues at hand
  • Improve communication
  • Build capacity
  • Encourage entrepreneurship / empowerment / ownership
  • Focus on ‘low hanging fruits’
  • Take responsibility
  • Improve the inclusion of stakeholders
  • Seek partnerships
  • Improve resource mobalisation

They also acknowledged that as leaders the most imperative principle was to create enabling environments that allow others to carry out these principles in their everyday work.

You can download the principles here:


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