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Leadership in sustainability planning: propagating visions through empathic communication

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Despite their lack of decision-making power, planners frequently prevail in advancing strong sustainability agendas. A review of leadership and planning literature suggests that they employ collaborative practice. Using an ethnographic methodology that draws from the stories and actions of six planners with sustainability mandates, supplemented with a survey of their staff and colleagues, this research examines how they do it. Findings suggest that despite variety in their organisational contexts, the planners relied on strong visions and on forging and maintaining relationships to set and implement sustainability mandates. The planners deployed participative and collaborative values selectively in support of their mandates.
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Keywords: empathic communication; leadership; relationship building; strategic planning; sustainability planning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, 433–6333 Memorial Rd, ., Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z2, Canada

Publication date: March 4, 2015

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