Leadership in middle management - Environmental Champions

Effective leadership is critical for success. It can take many forms, emerging at grassroots or demonstrated by executives. We worked with a mix of personnel, invited from almost forty offices across London, who were ready to play their part in putting sustainability into practice in their workplaces and to make use of new internal platforms for raising issues, sharing solutions and building support for action.

We designed and led a series of workshops for Transport for London (TfL) in support of Environmental Champions. These Environmental Champions are volunteers who commit to taking an active role in reducing TfL’s environmental footprint.

The workshops were framed in the context of the leadership that the Champions had in effect embarked on by volunteering for the role. In a short series of half-day sessions we facilitated a process in which everyone was able to explore the resources they as a group brought together: personal motivation, knowledge, contacts and creative ideas. We also explored the range of their workplace influence and the opportunities they could develop by working together with colleagues. 

The workshops were highly interactive and all participants were given ample opportunities to work together, learn from each other, try out new tools and techniques and push the boundaries of their own capabilities and confidence in safe and exploratory settings. Participants were able to discover and practice ways in which they may influence others and also gain insights into how they themselves are influenced.  

Feedback indicates that the workshops provided a great deal of motivational and strategic support to this group of employees in a very short period of time. Each participant mapped out a personal strategy including initial actions and also prospective allies and mentors they could work with. They also established an extensive agenda of practical ideas and applications for immediate gains in energy saving, waste reduction, improved internal practices and procedures and ways to enhance internal communications. In addition they defined areas where increased information and support would enable them to be more effective.

Leadership in middle management is often under-rated. To be successful it must be supported by recognition from senior management and processes that facilitate ongoing networking and support. The opportunities for increasing motivation and commitment, especially when linked to shared values, are very clear and were powerfully demonstrated in the course of this programme.