Leaders in Conversation with Anni Townend

Anni Townend in Conversation with Tor Lawrence, CEO Sussex Wildlife Trust

November 04, 2021 Anni Townend and Tor Lawrence Episode 26
Leaders in Conversation with Anni Townend
Anni Townend in Conversation with Tor Lawrence, CEO Sussex Wildlife Trust
Show Notes

To coincide with the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, for episode 26 of the Leaders in Conversation Podcast, Anni welcomes passionate nature campaigner Tor Lawrence. 

For almost 25 years, Tor has developed a successful career in wildlife, conservation, the environment and community engagement and is now Chief Executive Officer of Sussex Wildlife Trust.

She talks to Anni about her evolving love for the great outdoors, nature connection as a dynamic experience, her hopes for COP26 and she reveals some of her leadership principles.

Nature connection as a dynamic experience
Despite Growing up in Lewes, a rural East Sussex town nestled in the South Downs National Park, Tor expresses how she did not have an early affinity with nature. 

Her love of nature  developed over time, nourishing and supporting her personal wellbeing through periods of difficulty until it became part of her DNA. “I'm someone who's learnt how a deficit of nature can shape someone,” she comments. She is now passionate about helping others to enjoy nature and connect to the environment, especially those who have not grown up with nature as a key part of their lives. 

Tor explains: “When we talk about trying to make a better world for the future, we cannot build that on nostalgia. We have to build that on a vision and collaboration for a better world. We cannot assume that everyone has had abundance of nature in their life.”

Collaborative leadership principles
For colleagues at Sussex Wildlife Trust, Tor is enabling that sense of collaborative vision-setting by ensuring everybody feels seen and heard through an inclusive culture. 

She shares some of her leadership tactics, including open team meetings where every single employee is encouraged to speak for two minutes without judgement.  “We've got to be enabling the leaders of the future people to feel able to speak up without backlash or without blame,” she confirms.

COP56 and accountability
Anni and Tor discuss how the environment is a “non-negotiable” part of leadership, which is critical to every business. And why businesses need to be more accountable. Tor goes on to share one of her key hopes for COP26 is that senior leaders there will stand up and take ownership of the current climate challenges. Ultimately, she believes it is about giving people confidence.

“We can't have a situation where people feel incredibly deflated afterwards,” she comments. “[We need] people to feel they come out with some real prizes, that we've got people being authentic and making real, really good decisions for the future.” 

Listen to the full episode to hear about:

  • How trauma can create disconnection to nature and the environment
  • The impact of organisational trauma and organisational impulse
  • What nature connection looks like for different people 
  • ‘Catapulting’ yourself to a better place through nature connection
  • Being brave - why it is crucial to speak up for ourselves in order to speak up for nature
  • Encouraging others 
  • Self-awareness in senior leadership 
  • Creating boundaries and structure for people to flourish

Find out more 

For information on Sussex Wildlife Trust visit sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk or connect with the team: facebook.com/SussexWildlifeTrust  | Twitter @SussexWildlife | Instagram @SussexWildlifeTrust

For info on COP26 visit ukcop26.org