What conservation leaders must get to know for themselves

Leadership is a broad spectrum skill set. It related to personal, interpersonal, intellectual, perceptive and learning capabilities.

If it is possible to bil it down to a few topic areas, then the best and broadest categores are those suggested by Deming in his System of Profound Knowledge.

As a leader you need to know:

1. How people ‘tick’ – basics of psychology

What is motivation? How does a leader sap mtivation out of people? What can be changed to enable people to perorm at their best? How can wwe get pwopel to collaborate and share? How can we help people to improve the work that we do?

2. How systems work – organisations, ecosystems, social systems

What is a system? WHat factors affect how a system works? How do we measure performance? What are the effects of changes on a system?

3. How data over time (longitudinal) tells us how a system is working

What is ‘good’ performance, what is ‘bad’ performance? What is predicatble? How do we know if things are going wrong? What is risky performance? What is chance or a ‘one-off’?

4. How different levels of knowledge can – and should – be used

Can we oly work with facts? Are facts real facts or something else? How do we make uncertain information into facts, or at least, useful infomation?


Black, S. A., & Copsey, J. A. (2014). Does Deming’s “System of Profound Knowledge” Apply to Leaders of Biodiversity Conservation?. Open Journal of Leadership2014.

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