The single most important attribute today is leadership.
You don’t need to be appointed as a leader to lead. Do it as a matter of life.
Crossing the Chasm
Not all leaders have the capacity to walk the path of embedding sustainability in business. Leaders have to firstly embrace the idea of sustainability in their lives in order to lead their organisations in the same way. This means accounting for their impact on society, the environment and the overall health of local and global communities. Those who actually persist on sustainable change are leading in their own right, regardless of their role of position in life, to be part of the solution in building a world that we want our families to inherit.
Imbedding sustainability in the bottom line requires leaders with extraordinary abilities. This is because sustainable development executed within organizations can be complex as it involves conscious moral decision making actions and complicated problem solving. Leaders operate in environments that are dynamically interconnected, balancing economic and social systems that require them to engage in a journey of self-discovery, balancing partnership, building practices while developing the organisation’s capacity to become more sustainable in itself.
The leader’s inward journey of discovery grows to become centered in deeper empathy, compassion, understanding of oneself in relationship with colleagues, organizations, communities, the environment, and so on. While this can support the leader’s own personal and professional development , it also takes time and focus as leaders establish policies to manage sustainable development at an industry, national and global level. With partners, they then implement strategies to influence communities as part of the plan for sustainable development.
While personal and organizational spiritual leadership models can be used to embed sustainability into the triple bottom line, in reality unfortunately, this is not done. To do so requires a leadership paradigm where everyone involved is enrolled on the purpose and experience of creating solutions to build a better world, connected to a cause that provides for generations to come.
This can only come about at the personal leadership level, one leader at a time, each connected to a greater purpose other than profits. In so doing, a leader’s biggest leverage is time and the majority of leaders do not want to be caught up in systems and structures that “limit” their creativity. They seek fast clear solutions that are driven by passion and purpose, clear in its implementation with easy to understand steps.
In today’s leadership space, there are a multitude of trainings available – both online and in person, and a legion of books and systems written about the topic. Leaders are bombarded everyday about leading, doing, inspiring, achieving the impossible, shooting for the ultimate result, a seemingly never-ending cycle of how and what a leader is to do in order to succeed. On the opposite scale are then discussions about life – what are the self-imposed restrictions one has on oneself? How does one balance life in general with overwhelming responsibilities from both business and family? What does one change? Who does one want to become? What models do we use? Who does a leader follow? These are just some of the overwhelming questions that leaders ask in self-reflection. Intelligence is sometimes crippled by analysis as leaders overanalyze thoughts and emotions instead of practicing being consciously aware moment to moment and learning the subtleties of life experiences – moving away from the black and white school system of yes, no, must and must nots. Knowledge cannot be compared with wisdom or intelligence. Wisdom cannot be bought by learning or discipline. Having an open mind is critical – in many cases, more important than learning itself. An open mind does not entail packing it with an extensive amount of information, but more of being mindful of one’s thoughts and feelings, observing surrounding influences, paying attention to others, observing both the powerful and the lowly, the affluent as well as the destitute. Wisdom emerges from the observation and continued understanding of everyday incidents in life while living the human relationship and certainly not a result of fear and oppression.
Bridging the Gap
Gaps, chasms, breaks, holes – all these disrupt continuity in projects, within teams, in communication and so forth. But it is not all bad. Gaps can come at the right time to give some space in between people or projects. In business, a gap in the market can represent an opportunity to expand a company’s customer business. As a leader, it is important to recognize where gaps exist and how to bridge them. Conducting a gap analysis means accessing the performance of a business unit to determine if the business goals and requirements have been met – and if not, what steps can be taken to achieve them. The process itself defines 2 positions – current state of where we are, vs where we want to be. This is applicable across all areas of a business – sales, marketing, finances, results, operations, teams etc. In most times, gap analysis can be a long and arduous process, mapped out against the company’s objectives.
Around 2000, the concept of spiritual leadership emerged as a result of attention among scholars and theorists to develop a system for a positive sustainable workplace. Influencing vision, values and relationships garnered better results than fear, power and control. As such, transiting from a leadership-centered workplace to a human-centered workplace led to the emergence of different dimensions of spiritual leadership with leaders focusing on sustainability and making contributions beyond individual interests. (Zsolnai & Illes 2017). There is mounting evidence that leading with a sense of purpose is essential; aggregated as a core in spiritual leadership where visions are created by both leaders and followers who inspire a sense of calling such that they can make a difference as their lives grow purposeful with meaning. Establishing an organizational culture that is founded on the values of altruistic love allows where leaders and followers to develop a sense of membership and belonging, feel understood and appreciated.
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. ”
Ikigai – defined as the reason for being – is the knowledge, acceptance and excitement around how we lead and why we choose to do it.
Understanding WHY we are leading is probably more important than HOW we are leading.
start the conversation
Leadership is an ongoing conversation. The more flexibility we allow, the easier life gets. Integrate leadership as a habit and live life with passion, fulfillment and the holistic rewards that come with it.