Everyone Can Be a Sustainability Leader
Leadership, one of the buzzwords that are currently discussed everywhere. But while leadership is defined, explained, and highlighted, one aspect is often overlooked: More people than expected can, in fact, be leaders.
No, you don’t need to be the store manager, the head of a department, or the CEO of the company to act like a leader and have an impact in your field.
A New Idea of Leadership
The truth is that leadership can happen anywhere. How, you may ask?
Briefly put, leadership is “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal”.
By this definition, no title or authority is needed, but leadership does require an intended outcome, for instance acting more sustainably.
This rather modern idea of leadership gives a lot more power and agency to individuals in companies that may have previously felt left out of leadership talk.
But more and more, people are realizing that they too have agency in their company and can greatly influence their peers and colleagues.
The Sustainable Leader
A sustainable business takes into account not only economic aspects, but also social and environmental ones. A triple bottom line approach ensures that all three dimensions are considered in a similar manner. To achieve a truly sustainable business, it takes organisational and personal change and dedication. These two factors influence each other, which highlights the importance of personal sustainable leadership.
Adopting a global view and understanding the interconnectedness of different world issues is key for acting sustainably. In order to become a sustainability leader it takes leading by example, reducing personal waste and emissions, as well as increasing efficient and mindful behaviour.
The Power of our Actions
With this, however, comes a sense of responsibility. If anyone can be a leader and influence others towards a certain goal, this means that individual actions and stances are more important than was perhaps previously thought.
On the other hand, this notion can and should be seen as empowering. Your ideas, beliefs and personal goals can be translated into a corporate setting. By communicating and showcasing your sustainability agenda in the workplace, you may just start a chain reaction of people informing themselves more about the climate crisis, and as a result changing their own behaviours. Additionally, this could entail demands for a different corporate governance – one that puts environmental and social issues at the core of the business model and purpose.
Solving Societal Problems
As all actions and issues are connected globally, addressing problems at the core will likely have more than one beneficial outcome. Moreover, innovative thinking by different experts and departments is greatly advantageous for a business’ success in operating sustainably. And with the sustainability success of a company comes a noteworthy contribution to global issues. In fact, to solve societal problems, it requires the support of nations, businesses, and individuals. And individuals step up, become leaders, and aid or guide their companies to becoming sustainable organisations.
Using Personal Leadership
By paying more attention to our personal leadership, we can harness the power and use it to further the sustainability of our workplace or colleagues. If we introduce this idea of personal leadership on a larger scale, issues that move us personally will be highlighted and considered more frequently. Topics like climate change, the extinction of species, social injustices and many others would receive more attention on a corporate level.
Companies are already moving, broadly speaking, in a more sustainable direction – and our notions of personal leadership can greatly accelerate this trend.
Bold and Committed Leaders – with strong personality
While leaders do not need very specific characteristics, they do all influence their environment and to do that, a certain level of commitment and boldness is necessary. By sharing your ideas and thoughts on key topics, you will reach more people. Furthermore, the way in which you may share opinions matters greatly, as feelings like enthusiasm and dedication shine through in conversations. A great leader is often someone who firmly believes in what they say, and act accordingly. They set examples for others to follow and encourage inclusion. Additional elements that increase the leadership success are gratitude and appreciation, which make the recipients feel valued and motivated.
“Each of us has the responsibility to do the best that we can”. Christiana Figueres
Lastly, as this quote by a Costa Rican diplomat says, we all have a responsibility – to ourselves, to each other, to the planet. Becoming aware of our leadership potential, no matter our current job, and using it for the social and environmental good is a great step to take for a more sustainable world.
This month is all about jobs and leadership for sustainability. For more interesting articles on various topics, stay tuned and become part of the community!
Also, we are curious to know:
- When did you last take leadership to achieve a positive outcome? And what did you do?
- How would you personally define leadership?
- Do you have any examples of great sustainability leaders?
- How can companies empower their employees to recognize their leadership potential?
- Sixteen global sustainability leaders seeking transformational change | Leadership | The Guardian
- 3 Sustainability Leaders (That Are Saving The World) (carlossanchez.eco)
- What Is Sustainability Leadership? (td.org)
- Leaders with a ‘sustainable mindset’ can help solve societal problems | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
- What Is Leadership? (forbes.com)