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The Importance of Sustaining People for Growth

For Kirsty Knowles, people matter. She explores how and why we need to enable the sustainability of human beings for personal, professional and shared growth. Kirsty champions Human Sustainability as key for sustainable development.


Empowered Sense of Agency


People need to feel empowerment in all areas of their life - with a sense of authentic autonomy.


If rooted in confidence, individuals and teams can co-create. We co-exist well in relationships if equity is upheld - we need to feel appreciated, heard and included with diversity of thought shared. In families, communities, organisations and businesses, I encourage “...a shift from a ‘power over’ hierarchical mindset to a ‘power to’ mindset” (Inam, 2020). I advocate for us to detach from the concept of leaders as the expert and reimagine them as energisers of teams and facilitators of growth agility for collaboration.

Exploration of how to be ‘Learn-it-all-Leaders’ reveals that with a focus on people, we can bring humanity to leadership and cultivate gardening cultures in work environments. People within businesses and externally linked communities can flourish alongside profit. As leaders and as team members, we can be part of something bigger than ourselves, collectively influencing sustainable development for a personal, professional and socially responsible greener tomorrow.


Nurturing Connected Human Ecosystems


Growing ourselves, individuals and team of teams will sustain our interdependent ecosystems. And increasing human potential and capacity brings with it humility and a unified purpose. ‘Learn-it-all-Leaders' remain curious, they lean into learning, and they are comfortable relying on others who have different expertise. Whereas ‘infantilisation’ disempowers. It brings to leadership limiting assumptions about others and their capability and imposes a sense of the leader believing they are superior. This type of behaviour can easily slip in without intent: “I know I am right about this; trust me.” Thinking traps can be created from ego, insecurities and vulnerability - these need to stay out of the way for personal and work-based progress.

Limiting assumptions shaped from pre-judgments can sabotage the forming of connections and the building of relationships but if they are acknowledged and defeated, or ideally avoided, rapport can be developed quickly - virtually as well as in person. Seeking and establishing connection from one human ‘being’ to another is a strength towards sustaining others. And from connecting, trust can be instilled, and natural ease rapidly fosters comradeship or collegiality. Drawing on research, the pitfall of inaccurate perceptions and letting any judgement restrict the capacity for connection is that there could be a default to a threatened feeling of self-imposed comparative inadequacy, or overthinking, and misinterpretations can complicate dynamics.

Clarifying and aligning people around a shared purpose provides an anchor for future challenges. Together, individuals and groups need to front up and check out anything that might hold back what is required to get done, and how this might play out to ensure flow. In the coaching I offer, I might lean into Rock’s SCARF model (2008) to provide a framework for exploring any potential triggers most likely to disturb an individual’s survival range of reactions. Where someone feels they are in relation to another influences their opinion of status (S); How certain we are about what the future holds for us (C); How much autonomy we deem to have over our own life (A); How relatable am I to others and vice versa (R); and how fair everything feels (F) are areas of sensitivity which hold potency and reveal how our own neurobiology can affect co-creation.


Human Sustainability