Sustainable leadership on the table

I’ve decided to in this blog post share my goals for enhancing sustainable development, my practical experience of how sustainable development can be enhanced, and why I ended up setting up my own business, the website of which I am launching now!

Photo by Mauritz Eklund

I’ve had a lot of good leaders sparring me forward over my career. In the spring of 2010, I finished a big work project and asked my current supervisor at the time, that why could I not now, for once, do this same job, I manage, for a year. He replied no, he had done it once and he had repented it afterward. Therefore he does not recommend it but instead advised me to continue with new challenges all the time. That same year, my youngest child was starting elementary school and I decided that NOW I have the opportunity to do a bigger project. Four years later, I defended my doctoral thesis about my passion, enhancing education for sustainable development. My dissertation was a cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary action research study done in a network of 11 universities in three countries about enabling change in universities. The most challenging thing was to find a university that would be interested in an interdisciplinary dissertation, but after many “no” answers, I found my place at the University of Turku. The dissertation can be found here: Enabling change in universities: enhancing education for sustainable development with tools for quality assurance. I learned a lot during that process and at the top comes in the search for information and finding and condensing essential information with quick reading, on any topic. The most challenging thing for me was constantly correcting the grammar. I also remember that when I graduated I decided that I could continue writing, for example in the form of a blog, which I am now starting. In addition to promoting sustainability aspects, I am interested in sustainable leadership.

About a year ago, at the lunch of one seminar, we talked at my table about e.g. sustainable leadership. I was recommended the Academy of Philosophy, which wants to create a “world in which the vast majority of people enjoy and find meaning in what they do daily.” I think this is one good definition of sustainable leadership. Experts from the Academy of Philosophy write blogs in Finnish that are published weekly, which I highly recommend reading. At the beginning of October, I listened to Eero Lahtinen’s audio blog, which deals with what kind of support supervisors and teams need in the midst of major changes. Lahtinen (2020) points out that when one gets to apply ones own special skills, it is perceived as an inspiring factor that increases well-being at work.

This summer my workplace recommended to take some time off duty, which I began to think about. I enjoy my work, I get to promote all sustainability aspects for the Baltic Sea and I get a lot done, but I also have special skills and know-how that I do not actively use. I found out with my employer that this could be done and I decided to take some time off and do other work in addition to my own work, in my own areas of expertise.

My goal is to get more educational institutions, municipalities, organizations, associations, and companies to enhance sustainable development in their activities, by applying my skills and passion more widely, within my own business

Then how can sustainable development be promoted? In my experience the easiest way to start is by discussing in your work environment: how do you already promote sustainable development in your work? And what else could you do to promote economic, social, and environmental aspects equally? Personally, I apply the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals a lot in my work, which I think are well suited to highlighting sustainability issues. If you are looking for a tool, I highly recommend the free tool SDG Impact Assessment Tool,, developed by the Gothenburg Center for Sustainable Development, a collaboration between the Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg. 

A week ago I turned 47.5 years. I graduated at the age of 25 and if I work until the age of 70, as many of my Norwegian colleagues already do, the midpoint of my career would be at age 47.5, which is now! Sure, I worked before I graduated, but knowing myself I will probably be working also as retired, which is why I now decided that it’s time to do something for sharing my special skills and know-how.

Finally, I want to share the advice of my former supervisor further, also to you – don’t stay put, but challenge yourself, constantly. The challenge can be of different scales, smaller or larger, which suits the current life situation. I think to myself that humanity would not be at this point where we are now if people before us had not constantly challenged themselves to achieve continuous progress.

Check out my website and get in touch if you would like to cooperate with me.

Tove Holm, October 26th, 2020


Lahtinen, Eero, 2020. [What kind of management service would you like to have?] Minkälaista johtamispalvelua saisi olla? Academy of Philosophy blog, October 6th, 2020: 

Published by toveholmconsulting

Founder of Tove Holm Consulting. I am a transdisciplinar facilitator for sustainable development. Passions: change leadership, education, Agenda2030, networking & the Baltic Sea. I am a public speaker & PhD.

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