Ten attributes of emergent leaders who promote sustainable urban water management

Ten attributes of emergent leaders who promote sustainable urban water management


Academic paper

A. Taylor [1] *

1 National Urban Water Governance Program, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Building 11, Clayton Campus, 3800, Victoria, Australia

*Corresponding author, e-mail andretaylor@iprimus.com.au


This paper highlights and discusses ten attributes of emergent leaders (also known as champions ) who worked as influential change agents within publicly-managed, Australian water agencies to help promote more sustainable forms of urban water management. These attributes relate to: the openness to experience personality characteristic; career mobility and work history demographics; personal and position power; strategic social networks; the culture of their organisations; and five distinguishing leadership behaviours (e.g. persisting under adversity). Guided by the findings of an international literature review, the author conducted a multiple case study involving six Australian water agencies. This research identified attributes of these leaders that were typically strong and/or distinguishing compared to relevant control groups, as well as influential contextual factors. While it is widely acknowledged that these leaders play a critical role in the delivery of sustainable urban water management, there has been a paucity of context-sensitive research on them. The research project highlighted in this paper is a response to this situation and has led to the development of a suite of practical, evidence-based strategies to build leadership capacity throughout water agencies. Such capacity is one of the elements needed to drive the transition to more water sensitive cities.


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