What are the Qualities of a Sustainable Leader?

An emblem that outshined the rest in society as a leader once stated, 

“Leaders are people who are capable of expressing their emotions to the fullest of levels” 

Leadership today is a factor which immensely misses out on the element of expression. Perhaps one of the most pressing ideas which many modern-day business leaders are ignoring is the idea to become sustainable. We are looking towards a future which will be overrun by fewer but expensive resources. Pressure on many modern-day businesses is increasing by the day and the need to find a sustainable leader has become imminent. They want someone who can take control of their affairs.  

With the introduction to new problems involving environmental, social and economical issues, the challenges emerging to the frontline are uncontrollable. Businesses are seeking a better class of leaders who the basic understanding, the capacity and the courage to drive sustainability initiatives. 

So what does it take to become a sustainable leader? 

Let’s find out. Here are some qualities which makes a leader sustainable than the rest. 

What Makes a Sustainable Leader? 

The concept of management in multiple organizations is the same, steering organizations in the right direction. However, good leaders need to be capable of navigating all necessary challenges and understanding how to transform those challenges into worthwhile opportunities. Sustainable leaders are the kind of leaders who are capable of adapting to the environments quickly. It makes them capable of making commitments to the people and provides them with the necessary resources to achieve their goals and objectives confidently. They inspire others to become leaders just like they are. 

Therefore, sustainable leaders are often observed as the kind of leaders in organizations who is capable of attracting and retaining potential employees. And hence, they immensely get rewarded. 

Specialization and Diversification

Modern-day individuals aiming to become future leaders aren’t supposed to be only graduates holding a Master’s degree in Business Administration. They need to grow out of their comfort zones of completing an education and instead find a higher purpose. Just as much as the breadth of experience is valued, so is the depth of understanding in a specific field is valued. Candidates who are good at specific activities such as analytical reporting, sub-specialized analysis, life cycle analysis and what not are the favored choice. Valerie Orozco Manager at Sustainability Service at Accenture states, 

“As sustainability matures, people are looking for experts, and you want to be known as that person that can do LCA or Scope 3 [greenhouse gas reporting] or whatever that might be. Because when a request for proposal drops, if we know you’re the expert, we’re going to bring you in.”

Possess Business Acumen

No matter how important you hold views on environmental issues, unless you’re not talking with the right business terms, you are certainly failing to make an impact in the business world. If you’re a manager planning to take a sustainability role within your organization, it is highly important that you are aware of the company understandings, and in which context the company is moving forward. Only then, will you truly be able to communicate the value of the environment and sustainability in businesses? Truman Semans, Principal consultant at the GreenOrder says, 

“The ability to understand business models—not just reputational and bottom-line efficiency benefits, but also how companies make money off of sustainable products and services—that’s really a big difference, and a lot of people we see don’t have that,”

Possess the Ability to Lead Change

A sustainable leader requires the trait of leading change within his or her organization. Promoting the essence of sustainability in itself is quite the challenge and as much as it may sound warm and fuzzy, underneath, sustainability is all about following the right business practices within the organization. It requires someone who is tough as nails and can push the message behind sustainability without any hassle. Sustainability does not only mean that you’re capable to talk about environmental issues, but it’s also about how you are doing it keeping up your professionalism, showing persistence and leadership. Lisa Shpritz, Senior Vice President at the Environmental Operations at Bank of America says, 

“A successful corporate sustainability professional needs to be comfortable in situations where he or she is not the most popular person in the room, in order to truly influence and change systems and processes,” 

Sustainable Leaders Have Humility

One of the greatest innate traits that a sustainable leader possess is that he is humble in nature. They don’t easily get uncomfortable when they are not the center of focus in stories. In fact, many just don’t want to become the center of attention because they have humility. It’s because of this humility they have the strength to combat the worst coming their way. It’s the same humility that enforces them not to be weak and keep pushing them forward. Sustainable leaders do what they do because they have a passion for creating a better society. They want to build a business which is good for everyone. Therefore, they have zero interest in acquiring any credit or earn any particular grandstanding in the world. 

They Know How to Envision Solutions

Certain managers are good at managing employees but they relatively fail in creating robust solutions. To be a sustainable leader, being a simple manager is never enough. You have to grow out of your shoes and become a real emblem in the world of leadership. If there is one trait or quality that is immensely favored among sustainable leaders, then it is their innate ability to take up new challenges. They are capable to identify the problem and then present relevant solutions for them keeping the sustainability factor in mind. Even though they are sound individuals presenting empowering solutions, it is necessary that they have a radically different mindset that works with survivability. 

That said, the above discussed are a few qualities that I believe is necessary for a leader to be sustainable. Do you have what it takes to be a sustainable leader in the market? Leave a comment. 

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