21/11/2014 06:14 GMT | Updated 20/01/2015 05:59 GMT

Sustainable Leadership vs. Natural Leadership?

'Sustainable Leadership' seems to be the current buzz phrase in business.

One definition of sustainability is 'conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources'. What I understand this to mean is: don't take more than you need and behave in a way that benefits the whole, keeping in mind future generations.

Although this is a fantastic way to take care of others, I am not a big fan of the word 'sustainable'. I just don't get turned on by the idea of maintaining at a certain rate or level when we could be instead be looking for all of the ways that we could grow and thrive while being conscious of our choices.

I have always had an intimate understanding of resourcefulness. I started my first business as a teenager at school, out of necessity more than anything else. If I wanted to eat, clothe myself and have any chance of enjoying myself I knew I needed to support myself financially.

I remember investigating the needs of those around me and noticing how I was driven by the thought; how could I provide a service that benefits myself as well as others? How could my business be an opportunity for us all to grow?

Even back then I intuitively felt the need to give back more than I took, because I knew that in the end it would benefit us all.

When I look back on my life, whatever I have done within an organization, with a group or as a volunteer, it hasn't taken long before I was placed in a position of leadership. I moved schools and within the first term I was nominated Head Girl. I volunteered as a prison and youth mentor, and was then asked to re-write the programme, and travel around the country delivering the new programme to hundreds of volunteers. Even my current position started as a part time volunteer and within a couple of years I was asked to take over as one of the Directors.

'You are a Natural Leader Mary, not everyone has that skill...' I have heard people say on many occasions.... But is that true?

I believe leadership is simply about awareness, which is why I also believe that if each of us can raise our awareness and really look at the impact our singular choices are having on the whole we will awaken to the realisation that we are all Natural Leaders.

Our individual lives have the ability to affect the whole of humanity. Our choices act like a domino effect for the people across the world who we are innately connected with even though we may never meet or see them. Our lives create the foundation for the generations to come all of whom will be enjoying or suffering as a result of each of our singular decisions.

When you raise your awareness you become more conscious of how you are communicating with another human being; what your motives are around the decisions and choices that you make and the wider impact that has, not just for yourself, your team or organization, but for people across the planet, then you are already walking the path of the 'Natural Leader'.

Permaculture (my true love) is a perfect example of embodying Natural Leadership. Woven into the philosophy of this is wonderful approach to life and growing food is...

• Care for the earth,

• Care for the people

• Don't take more than you need.

Imagine if all businesses were to operate under these principles. There would be no need to keep waving the sustainability flag as this would simply be a bi product of businesses who seek to thrive, not deprive...sustainability would be inherent in the way we live and do business.

So should you be seeking to be sustainable or choosing to be conscious of the choices we are making in every single moment, and how they affect the whole?

'Natural Leadership' is a choice we can all make.

Mary Daniels will be speaking at the Natural Leaders NOW conference, Friends House, Euston, London - Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd November 2014.

Tickets are available here: