• Leading our organisations towards sustainable development is an act of great personal, business and collective intelligence. 
  • 3 essential levels for Sustainable Leadership: Knowing the reality, projecting the desired future, and committed activation. 
  • The concept of “Sustainable Development” is about asking ourselves what future we want to create.

If anything has become clear to me from my expeditions around the world, climbing the highest peaks of every continent, crossing polar regions, living in jungles or adventuring in deserts, it is that the ancient tribes were not so wrong to think and live as if everything was part of a unity. We have lived and developed from the proud duality of “Man-Nature”, but in the end, we are realising that we breathe air, drink water, eat and use elements from the earth, need raw materials from the planet, and all natural elements (even bacteria, trees, fungi, mosquitoes, or ….), are part of our balance in order to live.

We are not talking about “Sustainability” to sustain the planet and nature. We are talking about sustaining human life and well-being on earth.

From here, we can reflect on the deep and essential meaning of this interdependence, and how the relationships and impacts of human activity in general, and economic development in particular, have been and are having around the planet. A development based on continuous and unlimited growth, which is always based on our capacity to extract and use natural resources that are limited.

Understanding this starting point, we can begin to ask ourselves the big questions: Is sustainable development possible, do we want development at any price, or do we want good development, do we accept a valid development today at the cost of a worse future tomorrow, how do we want to measure our development index, should growth be the absolute premise of this development, and many other key questions that we could continue to explore.

It may seem a bit out of place and somewhat naïve to raise such ‘big’ questions in a leadership article.  But what should seem naïve and out of place is not asking the right questions when we talk about leading our lives and our organisations and, with them, developing our path to present and future well-being.

The first mission of global leadership, and especially personal, professional and business leadership, should be to ask the right questions to get the right answers on such a key issue. It is essential to be clear whether we want a development that generates wealth at the cost of a negative impact on the world (and especially on humans), or whether we only accept a development that generates well-being in society, using the economy as a tool and not as an end; committing to avoid being detrimental to ecosystems and the future of civilisation.

All actors are key in this process, but if there is a particularly active agent in our civilisation, and with a great capacity for negative or positive impact, it is the “Business World”. But this capacity for impact gives it an enormous responsibility. Depending on how organisations are led, and whether they generate more or less wealth, they will be detrimental or beneficial to the world. And with the magnitude of the challenges and the information we have, to be neutral is to be part of the problem.  Business leadership that takes responsibility offers an immense opportunity for the future of our society: to act as agents of change for a more sustainable future. And this, beyond good economic performance, should be a key purpose of every company.

Individually and at the leadership level of each organisation, as well as collectively, we must ask ourselves what future we want to create. This is what the concept of “Sustainable Development” is all about.

And as always, when you want to create something and develop an ambitious project, you need a leadership that includes vision (what, how and why), Objectives, Strategy, organisation and motivation of teams, and action to achieve results.

To truly activate “Sustainable Development” will require “Sustainable Leadership”; and this will require at least three essential levels:

  1. Knowing the reality well: A great exercise in observation, information and objectivity, in order to know the social and environmental circumstances that affect and involve us, as well as our capacity for positive and negative impact from our activities.
  2. Projecting the future we want: both for our organisation and for the society and environment that surrounds us, and thereby assuming our responsibility in the creation of this future.
  3. Committed activation: Developing our strategy based on this purpose and establishing the limits that we can afford in order to move forward in our business, work and projects; and facing it more as an opportunity than as a renunciation.

If we manage to activate a leadership that enables true sustainable development, apart from avoiding much suffering, many crises and a possible collapse in many social and environmental aspects, we will create prosperous organisations, much more solid and useful for all the actors involved, with more cohesive teams motivated by purpose, with a greater possibility of attracting talent, with more creativity and innovation, with more efficient processes, with better allies, with a better reputation and, in the end, with better results in all senses.

Aspiring, committing and leading our organisations towards sustainable development is an act of great business and collective intelligence: working for good results always based on a commitment to a positive impact.  On the contrary, seeking growth and results without taking into account the impact we create on society and the environment is stupid, selfish and absolutely unacceptable.

Sustainable leadership is the intelligent leadership we need for the future, and our business fabric must rise to this great historic moment, because through its activity it has the opportunity to create a better world than the one that seems to await us if we do not react.

By |2024-04-19T10:38:48+02:0019 de April de 2024|Global, Sustainability|1 Comment

One Comment

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