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What is Sustainable Leadership?
Today there is much emphasis on the importance of saving the environment – and rightly so. If we carry on polluting, and consuming resources, at the current rate, there will be no world at all let alone a business world. Yet many organisations treat even their key human resources as consumable.
Traditionally, leaders have taken personal responsibility for ensuring the success of their team – resorting to working harder, faster and longer when the going gets tough. Problem solving and decision making is centred at the ‘top of the shop’ with the value of contributions being directly linked to the seniority of the proposer – classic Command and Control culture which is both rewarded and perpetuated.
Command and Control Culture
As competition and complexity have increased exponentially, the ‘Command and Control’ culture has led to stress and burnout at all levels. If individuals treat themselves and others as expendable, what hope is there for the environment?
Our mission is to bring about a paradigm shift and help leaders engage with people to release their creativity, intelligence and initiative. This requires them to:
• Assume that they do not have a complete picture of the whole situation
• Listen to the thinking and experience of other people in order to understand more of the whole situation
• Foster and support self managed teams and individuals
• Have an outlet for their own efforts that doesn’t involve micro managing others
Only by drawing on the combined brainpower of all employees can a leader hope to create headroom. Time is required if genuine thought leadership is to be pursued and initiatives taken to ensure both business, and environmental prosperity. In short, to demonstrate Sustainable Leadership .
Such a shift is not easy as it requires leaders to give up some of the behaviours that have made them successful and replace them with skills that have yet to be perfected. It also involves a change of focus - less operational to more strategic though this is not to say that sound operational leadership isn’t vital. A similar challenge also faces staff, particularly in relation to accepting responsibility. Ultimately, people should act as if they were running their own business i.e. self managed or ‘self employed employees’.
The Sustainable Leadership Questionnaire
This is a challenge for all levels, not just Top Management, to step back and consider their environmental and business footprint. This 'Sustain’ questionnaire, and supporting data, enables the identification and development of characteristics essential to successful and socially responsible organisations. As with any questionnaire, the results should be treated with caution and used to provoke further exploration of the issues highlighted. There is no ideal profile as different circumstances will require different responses so please enjoy the experience and allow yourself to visualise how positive things could be.