Defining Leaders In Today's Sustainability Movement
April 11, 2012
Topicschange leadership, Character-based Leadership, leaders, Sustainability
In recent years, eco-savvy consumers have driven up the demand for sustainably sourced products and services. Business leaders looking to secure the most reputable triple bottom line performance ratings need skilled sustainability leaders. These leaders need to provide the high profile results necessary to drive business growth in an increasingly eco-conscious global marketplace. While education and experience will vary among leaders, there are core skills and knowledge that are essential for excellence in this field. If going green is in your company’s future or if you are looking to expand the influence of your sustainable business, then consider the following key elements of the most effective sustainability leaders.
When examining the leadership skills of the most effective sustainability leaders, it is important to realize that comprehensive planning is important in the implementation of any sustainable business plan. Including teams in the process of goal setting drives more inclusive company-wide participation. For sustainable business practices to take permanent hold, leaders need to know how to orchestrate top down and bottom up participation that is relevant, meaningful, and engaging. In order to create a comprehensive plan that actively involves all corporate layers, cutting-edge training may be necessary.
Training and Development:
In recent years, a number of reputable and regionally accredited online business sustainability programs have offered corporate executives a more standardized way to develop sustainability initiatives. Professional organizations in the field have contributed to a more comprehensive business model that promotes social, environmental, and economic sustainability through setting industry wide goals and benchmarks. These organizations include: Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, The Business Council for Sustainable Industry, The International Institute for Sustainable Development, and The World Business Council for Sustainable Development among others. Leaders who have the skills and the connections can leverage increased influence.
Leveraging Effective Results:
Business leaders looking for a more assertive sustainability strategy can achieve positive results by aligning team leaders with the best online programs and most active professional organizations. To drive effective growth and networking, an effective sustainability plan is necessary. Leveraging increased brand recognition, increasing profitability through waste reduction, encouraging innovative problem-solving, and promoting employee morale are some of the key integrated goals practiced by the most accomplished sustainability leaders.
High Profile Success
While positioning your company as a leader in sustainability can result in improved brand recognition and corporate loyalty, it can also put you under increased customer and industry scrutiny. Securing leadership that can respond to the positive as well as the challenging aspects of this visibility will keep momentum moving forward. Perhaps topping the list of exemplary sustainability leaders is Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. His successful sustainability includes holding the desires of consumers paramount and seeking alignment with partners who desire long term relationships rooted in his sustainability goals. Being responsive, innovative, and committed to sustainable solutions that drive corporate growth inspires others to emulate his success. When your company achieves high profile success, you influence world-wide corporate growth and development which comes along with increased responsibility. For a list of other notably sustainable corporations, see this post at SmartPlanet.com.
Companies like Unilever have proven that sustainability is profitable. Businesses that take the time to review case studies and invest in quality training to promote sustainable business practices can experience increased brand recognition, enjoy greater customer confidence, and witness surging profits. Leadership like Paul Polman’s demonstrates that sustainability takes commitment. While it isn’t always easy to find sustainable supply chain products, consumer demand provides the directive that sustainability is vital for long term product support.
Corporate sustainability leaders that can leverage a comprehensive plan including the effective use of teams, social media, and community visibility generally receive the best results. Consumers will continue to push corporate development as “going green” continues to evolve into a mainstream business practice. With this evolution comes the need for highly skilled, well-connected, and experienced sustainability leaders who can fill top jobs at cutting edge corporations looking to secure a competitive advantage in the decades ahead.
As celebrated leaders such as the renowned Paul Polman continue to build a legacy that stretches across industries, new leaders are needed to continue the important task of creating a global marketplace where community development, sustainable sourcing, and ethical environmental practices are just as important as bottom line profitability. Corporate leaders that gain best practice sustainability training, combined with strong personal drive and relevant practical experience will be well positioned for the next evolution of business sustainability that is currently unfolding. For additional resources for growing career paths with a green future see, http://www.bls.gov/green/greencareers.htm.
Will you be positioned to take the helm for your industry?
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