Leadership is critical for any organization. Still, it becomes even more important when organizations work to gain momentum in their sustainability commitments, which is imperative to avoid planetary collapse. Active leadership is necessary to develop strong company values, a shared vision for the future, and collective ownership of that vision—followed by implementation strategies to achieve it.
An active leader is someone passionate about their work and the company’s mission, and they strive to lead and motivate their team. Active leaders support individual empowerment and stay closely involved with their team, stepping in when needed to lend guidance and support.
This type of leadership is essential for sustainability because it ensures that everyone is working together towards the same goal and the desired results are achieved. It also allows leaders to identify opportunities and challenges early to address them quickly and effectively.
Often, the most effective way to lead is by example. Regarding sustainability, this means engaging in ethical and eco-friendly practices as part of your lifestyle and being at the forefront of your company’s sustainability program.
This powerfully conveys to others that doing good for people and the planet is at the core of company values. It can also inspire others within your organization and across your industry to change their lives and contribute to creating a more sustainable world.
There are many other benefits of active leadership in sustainability, which we’ll discuss below.
When it comes to sustainability, communication is critical. By actively engaging with employees, upper management can ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals, reducing confusion around the company’s sustainability efforts.
Employee engagement is critical to the success of any sustainability program. Active leadership rallies the team and ensures employees at all company levels are committed to the cause. This encourages powerful collaborative opportunities, and when everyone works together towards a common goal, progress can be made more quickly and effectively.
When company CEOs and upper management are actively involved in sustainability initiatives, employees are more likely to be motivated to do the same. “Walking the talk” and being a positive role model for your team gives employees a sense that they, too, can be a part of a more significant cause contributing to our planetary well-being. This elicits motivation, commitment to the necessary changes, and a sense of fulfillment when achieving sustainability targets.
MORE EFFECTIVE DECISION MAKING
Upper management needs to be present in their sustainability program to ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of their employees, the community, and the planet. Active engagement allows CEOs and managers to thoroughly understand the program’s current status and future potential, including any weaknesses or obstacles hindering progress.
IMPROVED COMPANY REPUTATION
It’s no secret that sustainability has become increasingly important to consumers, especially millennials. And while there are many benefits of being a sustainable company—from reducing your carbon footprint to improving your bottom line—one of the most important benefits is the boost it can give to your company’s reputation.
An individual we have chosen as a reference to our readers for sustainability leadership is Dr. Anneloes Smitsman (Ph.D., LLM). She is renowned for her work in systemic transformation, regenerative business models, corporate sustainability, and education for sustainability and climate change. As the CEO and Founder of EARTHwise Centre, she has developed groundbreaking programs and projects for accelerating the transition to post-carbon economies. Guiding businesses how to apply foundational living system principles for innovating their business operations and implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Anneloes obtained her Ph.D. in the systemic transformation from the Maastricht Sustainability Institute at the School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Her Ph.D. dissertation, “Into the Heart of Systems Change,” is being implemented worldwide for systemic transformation in economics, education, politics, and governance through her proposed Transition Plan for a Thrivable Civilization.
She has won many awards for her pioneering work in human development and systems change, including as an overall African winner in the
category “Human Development” of the 2022 Africa’s Most Respected CEOs Awards by The Business Executive in collaboration with the Economic Development Board Mauritius. The award acknowledges CEOs’ contributions to attaining SDGs by African States.
Anneloes has relentlessly delved into new revolutionary ideas and brought radical new scientific truths to light to design the new systems in education, governance, business, and economics needed for our increasingly complex world.
Her background as a creative force of systemic transformation in education, economics, governance, and ecology has resulted from a marriage between her scientific originality, her experience as an entrepreneur and business leader, and her extensive experience in indigenous wisdom and consciousness. She is well known for her powerful consciousness-shifting practices to catalyze people’s inner development for the necessary outer transformations of our societies.
She can bring complex ideas to practical realization and put this to use for organizations, individuals, networks, movements, and communities. She can work fluidly from vision to action. She has dedicated her life to developing capacities and systems that can make a critical difference in our world’s transformation.
Anneloes is the architect of the EARTHwise Constitution for a Planetary Civilization, which provides companies with 13 Living Systems Protocols for assessing whether your business contributes to sustainable and regenerative development within planetary boundaries.
She also supports organizations, including DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), to develop unique constitutions based on the EARTHwise Constitution. She provides this constitutional support to DAOs in partnership with Hypha, where she is part of the core team and serves as a steward. Hypha is a global DAO platform offering unique DAO tools for decentralizing governance and democratizing ownership to empower sustainability transitions.
Anneloes has also been at the forefront of creating a Partnership Alliance for a Planetary Civilization with leading businesses, non-profits, and movements worldwide. Demonstrating collective leadership based on the shared values and agreements of the EARTHwise Constitution—as such, addressing the root causes of the sustainability and climate crises.
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