"Conscious Leadership is Sustainability Leadership"
I sat in a grand hall of the New York Public library listening with my regular skeptic in tow (because she's always there to challenge assumptions) as several influential corporate and NGO leaders took to the podium.
With an aura of confident and humble elegance, Fieke Sijbesma, CEO of Royal DSM and host of their annual Climate Week NYC event, "It's no longer business as usual," addressed the hall and my skeptic left the room.
His guests up next included, Danone CEO, Emmanuel Faber, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of Unicef, Professor Rebecca Henderson of Harvard Business School and Anne Finucane, Chairman of the board of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe. The event was moderated by the brilliant and engaging Vijay Vaitheeswaran from the Economist.
My takeaways were plenty, from strategies around employee incentives like bonuses attached to KPIs that include sustainability performance and social impact to the challenges leaders (conscious CEOs) face around operationalizing sustainability in a landscape that may not be ready to embrace real innovation. Another challenge is integrating purpose and a sustainability mindset throughout organizations. Sijbesma said, "You can't force purpose into people."
What I loved about this luncheon was the presence of truth and the epitome of conscious leadership.
The sustainability, climate, social and governance challenges we face today are front and center and it's going to take conscious leadership to move the dial on solving big world problems. The smoke and mirrors greenwash of yesterday still prevails but it's not everywhere, and it definitely wasn't in the room at DSM's event.
In that hall in the New York Public Library, the premise of the book I've been laboring over for the past 3 years hit home. It's time has come. Namely,
"Conscious leadership is sustainability leadership."
Chief Sustainability Officers should not divert the responsibility of sustainability leadership from the CEO of large companies with global impact. Every leader needs to be indoctrinated with the soft skill of sustainability. Thank you DSM, for holding this reality as a conscious leader.
Yes the hard skills of water usage, design and life-cycles, carbon calculations, human rights and law, finance and accounting are all still very grounded in subject matter expertise requiring hard skills that ought to be left to those experts.
However, a soft skill of leaders must include sustainability consciousness.
My work includes a process I've developed called, "The Sustainability Mindset Shift." It activates this core sustainability soft skill plus the consciousness and mindset needed for leaders to embody it, feel it, think and decide with it.
There are biases the collective has formed toward the very words 'sustainability' and 'environment,' and these biases need to be dealt with intentionally. The Sustainability Mindset Shift process does just that.
If one can learn executive presence or mindset management, and one can unlock their own purpose, one can certainly awaken the part of themselves that remembers they are nature, the part that remembers they are part of a whole.
"You can't force purpose into people," but you can unlock it out of them. You can inculcate a mindset, you can help people know their Souls a little deeper and this is where we unlock sustainability consciousness in people.
Leadership development, according to a Training Industry report in 2018 was a $366 billion dollar industry. Yet, the industry has not integrated sustainability as a soft skill in leadership development. (I propose it needs to and I share how in my forthcoming book)
One of the assessment tools in my executive coaching and leadership strategy toolbox, The Leadership 360 Profile, maps self-limiting reactive tendencies and leadership behaviors with creative tendencies and behaviors in a complex yet illuminating chart.
It goes beyond the benchmarks of leadership capability and effectiveness, to an integrative understanding of the person’s capacity for creative, adaptive and situationally appropriate responses to the leadership challenges that are prevalent in today’s VUCA environment. (VUCA = volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous).
As we awaken consciousness, grow in our own self-awareness and realize our impact on the 'other' and the whole, we move up the trajectory from ego-centric to reactive, to creative, to integral to unitive.
In the higher levels of leadership, integral or conscious leadership, we find sustainability in unison. We see those are the leaders who are accessing sustainability as a soft skill of leadership.
It's my life purpose to awaken sustainability consciousness in corporations and the world.
To sit in the halls of the New York Public Library during Climate Week in NYC, I marvel at how far we have come. I marvel that 25 years ago I was arrested for saying the same thing. I marvel that we're still so far from where we need to be. I marvel at the opening for all to receive this message and it's time has come, sustainability must be a soft sill in leadership development.
The bottom line and reason why it will be a game changer. ... is because sustainabilty, while many things, is also a mindset.
©2019 Intentional Paradigms LLC All Rights Reserved * No portion of this article may be copied or repurposed without express permission.
We all want a better world, better future of work, better alignment with the work we do and the values we hold dear to our hearts. We are the change agents creating the new paradigm. I help leaders, entrepreneurs and professional change agents integrate sustainability & conscious leadership into all that they do for more impact and influence. Reach out for a conversation about how you as a conscious leader can amplify your impact and lead the change in your company, your business, your team and your life! Ask about my keynotes, breakouts and workshop sessions to ignite your event.
Stephanie Trager, esq.
Catalyst Coach to Change Agents
Catalyst Coach | Purpose, Impact & Business Strategist
Sustainability Change Agent | Attorney | ESG | CSR
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