Growing Great Leaders for Conservation and Development across Africa

About Us

“A good leader leads the
people from above them.
A great leader leads the
people from within them.”

M. D. Arnold

GrowthLeaders in Action

At no time in our history has there been a need for concerted action to protect and save our biodiversity – globally, continentally, nationally and locally. The Centre for Biological Diversity warns that our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at up to 1,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.

Strong, clear and robust leadership is needed today to address looming crises of poor land-use management, bad decision-making on environmental issues, species population declines and die-offs and unacceptable conservation practices. GrowthLeaders aims to support the development of stronger leaders in Africa to push back on the unrelenting drivers that are hurling us towards these catastrophic events.

What is Conservation?

We view conservation as being an encompassing way of looking at how we manage our environment, our ecosystems, our natural resources, and our land – so that life is sustained and remains viable – not only human life – but all life. This includes the amazingly complex and intricate network of inter-dependent relationships we need to protect and manage our environment as an integrated ‘ whole’.

This requires that all of the supporting elements that make life viable in our world need to be managed, protected and used in ways that are sustainable and productive.

What is Leadership?

Leadership is a funny concept? It is widely discussed and debated – often with many differing opinions! But at the heart of it is a process of having a personal vision or goal and how other people are influenced or persuaded to embark on the journey with you towards that same vision and goal as a group of like-minded enthusiasts – all seeking the same desired outcome!
It is that capability a person to influence others and facilitating change to reach that ideal ‘better place’.

Central to all of this is an ability to communicate and transfer ideas clearly enough that others grasp the importance of becoming part of the journey. It is the creation and building of relationships and trust.


Conservation leadership is a program of support that is aimed at developing transformative leadership skills in the senior decision-makers of our societies across Africa – from the most influential politicians and heads of government ministries to the heads of the actual government departments, industry captains and communities – who often bear the brunt of living with wildlife.

GrowthLeaders will work with social actors who have a willingness to collaborate and participate in this urgent imperative to conserve our ecosystems, species populations, and environment. In general, and by nature, those involved in conservation and development are career specialists – many of whom have skills and qualifications in natural sciences. The natural sciences invariably invoke a more rigid and reductionist, scientific or evidence-based management and leadership style – often lacking formal training in organisational management and leadership. We aim to develop visionary, resilient and inspiring leaders who will have the courage to stand up for environmental truth and justice across Africa – capable of bringing about change for the better.

Leading in the Wilderness

In life – change is inevitable and natural. Change does not happen without tension and motivation. Being a leader is a lonely job! Standing up for the truth can be divisive and unpopular. It demands that certain unpalatable positions need to be taken in uncertain times – often forcing those with bold visions and strong positions to move to the periphery of society – into the wilderness. GrowthLeaders will help to develop a strong cadre of leaders across Africa who will feel comfortable being in the ‘wilderness’ while at the same time being capable of being influential within the core of society.