Becoming a sustainable leader

A sustainable leader must have a set of personal characters and managerial traits that enable him/her to lead with empathy inside a multitask-holder environment. A sustainability leader is someone who inspires and supports action towards a better world. - Alberto Pastore

The definition of what is a leader is a question that can have many answers. For example: 

  • A leader is someone who inspires passion and motivation in followers. 
  • A leader is someone with a vision and the path to realizing it. 
  • A leader is someone who ensures their team has support and tools to achieve their goals. 
  • A leader may be any of those things, but a good leader is all three.  

An effective leader has a shared vision aligned with core values and understands what it will take to reach their team goals. They inspire, manage, and support their teams to work creatively and confidently toward that shared vision. 

A leader empowers their team members to embrace their own unique leadership qualities and act with independently accountable passion. And they inspire and motivate their teams to maintain long-term progress and excitement towards achieving their goals.

Better Up offers a great explantation of the seven traits of a leader.  

7 traits of a leader 

Purpose. Without a sense of purpose, it’s hard to motivate team members. Leaders empower people to see the intention behind specific goals, enabling them to take equal part.. 

Motivation. Leaders are great motivators and create value-aligned goals so team members feel personally inspired to work toward the company’s vision. Leaders talk to their teams, and listen to their ideas and questions. Being a leader isn’t about giving orders and managing results—it’s about listening, supporting, and inspiring the best from others. 

Vision. Leaders see the bigger picture and can unite their team members behind their vision. By incorporating team strengths and core values, leaders inspire their team with an end-goal that resonates with individual values and inspires action. Leaders are visionaries for growth and expansion. 

Empathy. By listening and sharing their appreciation for their teams, leaders impart a sense of value. Putting themselves in the position of their team members also helps leaders address critical concerns and provide solutions. 

Creativity. Leaders embrace new ways of conceptualizing and strategizing. Nothing is off the table when it comes to providing imaginative and more effective pathways to long-term goal achievement and success.  

Team vision. Although the company's overall vision may begin with its leaders, their vision will account for nothing if it doesn’t speak to team members.s.   

Always trying to improve. Leaders never stop bettering themselves. With an eye toward growth, leaders continuously seek opportunities to improve for themselves and their teams. 

Different definitions generally agree that great leaders have the ability to make strategic and visionary decisions and convince others to follow those decisions. They do this by setting direction and inspiring others to want to succeed in achieving the end result. Moreover, they are capable of getting people excited and motivated to work toward the vision. 

Great leaders know how to both inspire people and get followers to complete the tasks that achieve the leader's goal. 

Sustainable leadership 

To all these great traits of a leader, we now must add the sustainability layer. Today's leaders need to be trained in sustainability and resiliency issues because they will not only be fundamental societal issues but also because they will be essential for doing business.

Sustainable leadership refers to the demonstration of individual behaviors that promote the preservation of the environment and the improvement of the well-being of all stakeholders, as well as the encouragement of these behaviors among teams and allies". 

To do so, the leader must promote, inspire or encourage the creation of profitable, growing business models that approach zero or even net-positive environmental and social impact; and enable your suppliers and customers to do the same. Sustainability should not be seen only as a subject or an option. Sustainability should be taught at the heart of every trade.

Managers should be trained to guide their teams and mobilize them on this topic. Marketing teams should be trained in responsible communication; and sustainable finance needs to become the new finance – because investors are looking for safe investments with companies able to, for instance, anticipate the events of climate change on food production issues. 

Sustainable leadership comprises the balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental spheres. This type of leadership must be implemented in different companies and organizations based on existing long-term measures.  

When a company prioritizes a form of sustainable leadership, it will be including society and the environment directly in its business objectives. Likewise, it will be incorporating both social responsibility and sustainability into the company's priority values.  

The importance of sustainable leadership in building a future that takes into account the three main pillars of sustainability (economy, society and the environment) continues to grow. It is these leaders who think about a world beyond numbers, in addition to playing a key role at the economic level. It is essential that continuous growth is done in a responsible manner to meet the needs and demands of this new world. 

Characteristics of sustainable leadership 

  • High commitment to the environment and society. 
  • Conflict management, communication and problem solving skills 
  • Prioritizes people: team, customers, communities and all stakeholders 
  • Generates health and well-being for the people in the organization. 
  • Aligns with the mission, vision and values. 
  • Creates an image of the future and defines where to take the organization. 


Sustainability Leaders Characteristics


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