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2 Major Global Leadership Challenges: Innovation and Sustainability

We are going to take a break from our Nigerian case study to think about another issue (which relates to Nigeria as well as the rest of the world).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world population increased from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion by 1999. These figures indicate that the world’s population doubled in a 40 year period. The Census Bureau’s latest projections imply the world population will increase to 9 billion by 2040, which is a 50 percent over the next 41 years.

Why is this important? Natural resources are in limited supply, which means the global leadership challenges associated with environmental and social issues are vast. Degradation, alteration and contamination of natural resources, issues related to food security and quality as well as threats to human health and wildlife are causing critical concern. The growing population combined with issues related to quality and quantity of natural resources in problematic. There is a need for leaders around the globe to work together and create a collective global vision designed to motivate individuals, communities and organizations to greater levels of social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

Further, most of the projected population growth will occur in the poorest and least developed regions of the world, which are already experiencing shortages of quality food, soil, air and water as well as lack of access to education, worker rights, healthcare and global political capital.

More developed countries face many of the same but also different issues. Agriculture has been so successful that many people living in the developed world enjoy a high degree of food security but are separated from the primary production of agriculture. Most see only products in attractive wrapping on their grocery shelves. For these people, it is difficult to understand the roles that agriculture and food security play in political stability and comfortable living standards as well as the cultural and educational achievements they enjoy.

Significant changes, including mechanization and the introduction of chemical pesticides, have helped increase agricultural production over the last century. However, global food shortages, increased contamination of natural resources and rising rates of consumer consumption continue to threaten the welfare of natural resources, wildlife and humankind.

Pressures on farmers to produce higher yields from their land to feed a growing population has accelerated the adoption of technologies that are less labor intensive but require higher levels of energy and natural resources. High input agricultural practices contaminate water and soil. Some health concerns (such as cancer) are linked to chemicals people use everyday, including those used to produce food. We all eat and wear agriculture everyday. Successful, sustainable agriculture is critical to the well-being of us all.

Innovation in both thought and technology is needed to change current trends causing environmental degradation as well as concerns related to human health and the well being of wildlife. As the population grows, more food must be grown on a smaller amount of land using less water and fewer inputs.

Buying trends also impact food production. Some individuals in more developed countries are beginning to demand more organic and locally produced foods free from chemical inputs such as hormones and pesticides. However, these production practices traditionally require intensive human input, including labor and time. They also sometimes require a greater land mass.

Rapid increases in consumer consumption and waste production must also be addressed. The environmental, educational, political and socioeconomic disparities between people around the globe creates a leadership challenge that must be approached from a holistic perspective unlike the world has ever experienced. It’s time for individuals and leaders to realize that we are all in this together. We must also realize that our agriculture and natural resources are critical factors related to both our success and failure as a global community. The world is truly a global community, and everything we do impacts one another.

World leaders must change attitudes, beliefs and behaviors on a global scale. Scientists, politicians, business and community leaders must work together to create a global vision of agricultural and environmental sustainability that can be achieved in short order. This type of innovation requires entrepreneurial leadership. We need leaders who are willing to create an atmosphere of innovation while encouraging others to become more entrepreneurial themselves. This will require leaders around the world to change. They must be willing take some calculated risks in an effort to pioneer new paradigms that benefit the global good.

Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation: The How!

Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation are supported by:

  1. Creating and communicating a relevant vision
  2. Motivating and empowering individuals
  3. Investing in and leveraging human (the what we know) and social capital (who we know)
  4. Developing a global mindset in organizations that embraces change and values diversity
  5. Cultivating continuous innovation.

Entrepreneurial individuals and leaders are needed to address the complex global issues associated with the evolving knowledge economy, which is now often referred to as an innovation economy.

So, how do leaders accomplish #1? How do they create and communicate a relevant vision?

Many leaders admit that developing and communicating a vision, which is relevant to others as well as the organization itself, is one their biggest challenges (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). Vision should be a component of a community and/or organization’s trategic planning model and is an essential element of leadership. Entrepreneurial Leaders must develop and communicate a vision is such a way that it becomes a powerful tool used to achieve common goals (Peck, 1991).

Creating a vision involves going through a vision process or session (Note: Wild Innovation does this for both communities and organizations!). Leaders must work with individuals in communities and/or organizations to develop a vision that provides a credible and attainable futuristic picture of where the organization is headed. Leaders must also talk about the vision often and coach others to help them see how their dreams and aspirations fit into the vision of the organization (Hall, Barrett & Burkhart-Kriesel, 2005). Physical and cultural reminders should also be used to effectively and continuously communicate the vision (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).

In order to effectively communicate vision, a leader must communicate and share their vision in a variety of ways. Environmental and cultural reminders repeatedly convey a vision. Vision statements should be physically present in buildings and on web sites. Individuals should be provided with materials that convey the vision of a community and/or organization in an effort to create a sense of belonging and personal fulfillment, which intrinsically inspires and motivates individuals.

What does it mean to be Entrepreneurial?

When people think about and study leadership, they typically think of a CEO in a corner office on top of a large building. This is certainly one way to think about leadership. However, this blog is about all of us serving as entrepreneurial leaders in an effort to create innovations that can help make the world a better place.

In order to keep up with the rapid rate of change in our increasingly globalized society, we must become more entrepreneurial as individuals and leaders.

Entrepreneurial Individuals are innovative people who are open to change and recognize and pursue opportunities irrespective of existing resources, such as time, money, personal support, and/or technology. There are many similarities between entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial individuals; however, there is a difference between entrepreneurial behavior and being an entrepreneur:

“Thus a politician, a physician, a university professor or a ditch-digger may show all the components of entrepreneurial role behavior, even though his status is primarily not that of an entrepreneur.” (McClelland, 1961).

Entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. They sometimes employ others and are the backbone of our economy.

Entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial individuals and entrepreneurial leaders are vital components of 21st century communities and organizations because they have the ability to advance themselves, other people, their businesses or places of employment and even the economies and societies in which they live. This advancement comes through the process of innovation. We all benefit from developing the entrepreneurial behaviors and leadership capabilities of individuals and the positive innovations that come from these activities!