09/17/2012 04:36 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2012

New Leadership for a Sustainability Generation?

Author Mark Coleman foretells of a new "sustainability generation" in his recently released book, The Sustainability Generation: The Politics of Change and Why Personal Accountability is Essential NOW! While sustainability in the past has been mandated by waves of governmental policy in the 1960s and '70s, and more recently by businesses seeking competitive advantage through corporate social responsibility, Coleman believes the next phase of sustainability will be driven by an awakened society.

Coleman claims social uprisings around the world, from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street Movement, illustrate a growing public sense that old solutions are not working today. While society can't yet articulate the reasons, Coleman sees today's simultaneous economic, environmental and political crises deriving from a single root cause: unsustainable behavior manifested in a sense of entitlement and a disconnection between our choices and their systemic impacts.

Perhaps the sustainability generation's biggest challenge is that it requires a new type of leader. Coleman's ideal is a systems thinker comfortable with ambiguity -- someone who sees problem solving as a process of constant learning and knowledge sharing with humility, honesty and compassion for others. Perhaps most difficult is a belief in personal accountability for self and others, a character trait Coleman finds lacking in today's "blame the other side" political discourse.

If a new "sustainable generation" is on the horizon, what leadership traits do you think will bring it forward?