Nature North: Working in partnership to nurture nature recovery leaders

By Steph Hepworth, Project Officer, Nature North

Nature North, an innovative collaboration aiming to drive investment into nature recovery, is proud to support the work of Common Purpose, a not for profit leadership development organisation that specializes in cross-boundary leadership, to develop the next generation of leaders who share a common ambition: to restore and regenerate nature. The North of England Nature Recovery Leadership Programme launched in May, with 50 emerging leaders from different disciplines, communities, and backgrounds joining this dynamic and experiential programme to develop their cross boundary leadership skills – key to collaboration, forge connections, and unlock new inspiration.  Generously funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation these programmes mark a significant step forward in supporting and developing the next generation of leaders who will, as their careers progress, be leading the regeneration of nature in the UK.

Empowering those with a passion to restore and regenerate nature

Successful leaders often develop their skills in environments where they hold clear authority, managing budgets, specific areas of work and teams. However, organisations increasingly need leaders capable of seeing the bigger picture and bringing together people and priorities to exceed individual contributions. This is especially true of the nature recovery sector where there are clear opportunities provided by collaborative work, for example in co-ordinating activity and sharing knowledge in this complex, interconnected sector. A core component of the Nature Recovery Leadership Programme is exploring how to lead beyond authority.

“We can’t regenerate nature without collaboration between people of many different backgrounds and sectors. Collaboration isn’t easy – it is an ability that we learn.”
Mike Innerdale, Regional Director North England, National Trust and Partnership Board Member, Nature North.

Leading Beyond Authority, the ability to produce change beyond your direct circle of control, requires a multifaceted skill set. Leaders must adapt to new situations and nurture three key competencies: the right approach, a strategic mindset, and the ability to work effectively with diverse individuals. These skills are essential for driving nature recovery efforts that break out of traditional organisational boundaries.

“This course has really opened my eyes to how many shared challenges and experiences we have across the nature recovery sector in the North of England. It’s clear that we will be much more effective if we work together and collaborate beyond our geographical boundaries.”
Julia Murray, Communications Manager, White Rose Forest

Making connections and building a network

Cultural Intelligence, the ability to cross boundaries and thrive in multiple cultures, is critical for leaders aiming to extend their influence beyond their immediate authority. Modern leaders must operate across various overlapping domains, including racial, cultural, political, geographical, religious, and social spheres.

“It has been encouraging to have time together with so many like-minded people working in complex roles across a diverse range of organisations. Listening to the experiences of others and exploring the skills being taught in this course has been invaluable. We are now halfway through the programme, and it has already enabled me to be more confident and to feel better equipped in my role. I’m really looking forward to keeping in touch with all the inspiring people I’ve met.”
Steph Hepworth, Project Officer, Nature North

The capacity to engage with different cultures is vital for creating diverse networks, which is a recurring theme in Common Purpose programmes. Their work brings together leaders from different sectors and cultural backgrounds, fostering diversity that breeds creativity and innovation. By exploring Cultural Intelligence, the Nature Recovery Leadership Programme ensures that emerging leaders are well-equipped to build and leverage diverse networks, essential for successful nature recovery initiatives.

What’s next…

The collaboration between Nature North and Common Purpose through the Nature Recovery Leadership Programme is a positive step towards cultivating leaders capable of driving nature recovery. By focusing on skills like Leading Beyond Authority and Cultural Intelligence, the programme prepares leaders to create impactful, sustainable change and build rewarding careers.

Common Purpose is a global not-for-profit devoted to good leadership. They are on a mission to develop people who can cross cultural, institutional and social boundaries. Both at work and in society. Founded in 1989, they deliver compelling, surprising, and powerful leadership programmes and workshops in over 100 cities and online. They give people of all generations the skills, mindset and spark to find a common purpose.