Let us start with two specific and inter-related definitions regarding Sustainable Leadership.
- Corporate Sustainability is a commitment over the long term to changing the world in which we live.
- Leadership Sustainability is a lasting and robust commitment to personal change.
This is important as it shows the inter-relationship necessary for the future well being of our world. Sustainable leadership cannot on its own change corporate strategy, and corporate strategy cannot in turn change leadership. It is a partnership in corporate and leadership vision that values not only profit, but people and the planet. In this article we address issues relating to Sustainable Leadership.
So what is Sustainable Leadership? Well-intentioned leaders shape the future, make things happen, engage current talent, build the next generation, and invest in themselves. They turn customer expectations into leadership actions.
The world is changing faster than ever before. We live in a world that is confronting huge challenges from population growth to resource shortages and climate change. Will new technology save us? It could, but equally needed is whether we have the leadership to deliver solutions while tackling political instability and conflicts of interest. We need leadership and we need leaders. Leadership means having processes that enable interests to be balanced, ideas to be shared, and a collective sense of purpose to be cultivated. We need leaders to be the flag bearers and drive innovation, and we need leadership at all levels. There is an almost infinite number of different ways to lead. So what are the key factors which support, and which can hinder, their effectiveness? However, this is just a snapshot of today, by the time you read this the world will have moved on. What they need is a willingness to explore unfamiliar incentives and discover a new world. They need to make genuine breaks with the past and an imaginative re-setting of their company mission & vision that is fitted to solving any number of sustainability issues. They need to be strategic about seeing, being and doing:
- Vision in leadership is what the leader sees and what helps their people to see. Sustainable leaders need to investigate, question, and challenge to find the right vision.
- Leadership in sustainable business is about being – living the values and processes that they believe will prove sustainable. This takes courage.
- Sustainable organisation means a culture of doing. It is where everyone carries out their role confidently, is able to improvise and where collectively, they deliver.
- Leaders need to expose themselves to different leadership situations to discover themselves. We are too focused on charisma rather than substance.
- Leaders need to know their weaknesses as well as their strengths and they need self-control.
- Leaders need to be challenged not feared. They need others tell them the truth, they are here to serve.
- Finally they need to tell stories – help people to see the connection between past, present, and future of the organisation. It explains the change that has taken place and the reasons why change must continue.
For those who wish to to learn more, we recommend the AZTech Sustainable Leadership training course.