To understand the sustainable leadership definition we must first understand the definition of sustainable development. Sustainable development has been summarised to an appropriate level of depth for all to understand, it is as follows “… is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Summarised in 1987, by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), commonly known as the Brundtland Commission.
From this definition there emerged the widely accepted idea that sustainable development is based on three pillars: economic, social and environmental. Today we’re calling these the three P’s – people, planet and profit.
Sustainable leadership definition
“Sustainable leadership has emerged as an effective leadership style to cope with sustainable challenges,” says an early article on sustainable leadership published in 2020.
An interest in sustainability has taken many forms throughout the past decade. Through culture, social and politically charged factors and even as an attempt to boost revenue through its use within marketing. (Some even convey a false impression or provide misleading information called “Greenwashing” see relevant article here.
We’re seeing a significant shift in business as they pivot to greener, “more sustainable” business plans. Whether it’s due to social pressure, finical gain, or a genuine attempt to preserve the environment, there’s no denying that it’s become a significant source of competitive advantage for organizations. The importance and responsibility for those at the top to embrace sustainable leadership have become very clear. ‘Sustainability leadership’ is about gaining the awareness and understanding of the impacts one can have through their leadership practice. By gaining the awareness one can foreshadow the effects of their actions. This means not only considering how this will affect stakeholders but the natural systems these operate within, it’s sustainable impact.
We’ve reached a point where there’s no hiding from the influx of updates instructing us of the potential impending doom that we’ve spent the last century creating for ourselves. Deforestation, air pollution, global warming, water pollution and natural resource depletion to name a few. The question we must ask ourselves at this point as a business owner, employee etc is “how can I make a difference?”.
How can I make a difference and increase my knowledge of Sustainability leadership?
Today is a good day for Sustainability leadership and tomorrow will be even better. With every day that goes past, we’re seeing an increase in resources and organisations helping individuals and businesses to evolve into sustainable versions of themselves.
If you’re ready to build leadership competencies and align your values appropriately here’s a list of where to start:
Crescente – Sustainability leadership for business (Yes ok, it’s a bit biased to put ourselves at the top of the list. But we’ve worked hard to make our course stand out, ooze relevance and save the planet. Also, it’s the first of its kind.)
University of Cambridge – Circular Economy and Sustainability Strategies (Accessible at a bit more of a premium than the other options but for a reason. Expert knowledge and great if you have the time to indulge).
More to come…
Alongside our current offering of channel videos, we’re on a path to create content surrounding the sustainable leadership space. Stay tuned and subscribe to get updates on any new and interesting content.