Leadership for Sustainability and Change

Leadership for Sustainability and Change

by Cynthia Scott, Tammy Esteves


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We live in challenging times. New leaders are enhancing their "inner game" to maximize their organizational impact, and using the principles of sustainability to help their organizations thrive and innovate in response to 21st century challenges.

Leadership for Sustainability and Change is a concise and practical distillation of what is working for today's most successful sustainability leaders. It provides a clear set of actions you can take to generate transformation, with results yielding market advantage, eco-efficiency, product or service innovation, personal resilience and engaged communities. Learn from the experience of successful sustainability leaders how to:

- Build personal resilience and agility to lead change for the long-run
- Sustain innovation that is released in bursts of focused 'energy for good'
- Draw attention to what is working by focusing on the power of small differences
- Decrease resistance and increase motivation with a change acceleration model
- Identify stages of individual and organizational readiness for change
- Use rapid prototyping to increase group engagement
- Tell compelling stories to encourage teams to initiate action

Leadership for Sustainability and Change offers guidance for leaders who are shaping the future of sustainability within their organizations. The book includes a simple framework for assessing your progress, so that you can revisit the tools and processes you need most.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781909293694
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 09/13/2013
Series: DoShorts Series
Pages: 83
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.21(d)

About the Author

Cynthia Scott is an organizational change leader. As Core Faculty for the MBA, MPA, and Executive Programs at Presidio Graduate School, Cynthia provides inspiration and practical tools for leaders implementing sustainability in their organizations. She brings her 25 years of consulting experience and education in anthropology, psychology and strategic planning to Changeworks Labs, providing strategic clarity, change navigation and global leadership development. She is passionate about building organizations where engagement and innovation flourish, assisting organizations such as Walmart, WellPoint, Linked In, VmWare, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Kaiser Permanente, AT&T, Deloitte & Touche, Estee Lauder, National Semiconductor, and IBM.

Tammy Esteves is a tenured faculty member with Troy University, an adjunct professor with the Presidio Graduate School and has also taught courses for NC State, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, Christopher Newport University, and Indiana State University. Her practical experiences include work as training coordinator for Virginia Blood Services; Human Resources Director for International AutoSport; community services coordinator for the Jefferson Area Board for Aging; development coordinator for the Virginia Discovery Museum; and Interim Executive Director for Avalon, a shelter for women and children. Tammy is very active in the American Society for Public Administration, where she is the president for the Section on Democracy and Social Justice, and is the president for the Evergreen Chapter.

Read an Excerpt

Leadership for Sustainability and Change

By Cynthia Scott, Tammy Esteves

Do Sustainability

Copyright © 2013 Cynthia Scott and Tammy Esteves
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-909293-71-7



A New Leader is Emerging

A NEW SET OF LEADERS IS EMERGING that uses a dynamic set of skills and capabilities to recreate the economic, social, environmental, and cultural models needed to create the innovative systems, products, cultures, and operations that their organizations will need to thrive in a complex, global environment.

These sustainability leaders are emerging within operations, manufacturing, marketing, environmental health and safety, human resources, and across functions as chief sustainability officers, directors of public affairs, directors of employee engagement, mayors, city managers, civic leaders, etc. They are pioneers, many in roles that are newly formed or expanding their scope to provide strategic guidance and targeted implementation of a wide range of initiatives. These leaders are using sustainability as a 'strange attractor' to draw unlikely allies into a wave of engagement and commitment to making change that matters.

They use a broad set of engagement strategies and personal agility to face the challenges of doubt, resistance, and the complexity of getting things done across many interests. They use inner resilience and foster collaborative relationships to build long-lasting change.

We have seen sustainable leaders come to their work along two main paths: they either have the responsibility for initiating sustainability-focused work thrust upon them, or they initiate these roles as 'intrapreneurs', engaging their organizations from a values-based conviction that change in this direction is necessary. A few have the opportunity to receive targeted education in sustainable leadership from the innovative programs at Presidio Graduate School and Bainbridge Graduate School where sustainability thinking is integrated into all courses. Most have initiated their own learning path.

This book is designed to give you an intensive leadership 'tune-up' so you can integrate sustainability into strategy – whichever path you happen to be taking. We will provide Application Exercises throughout where you can stop and apply the fundamentals being taught to your own situation.

This book draws from frameworks and tools built over the last eight years in the Sustainable and Civic Leadership classes at Presidio Graduate School and Troy University. It features Case Stories that highlight the experiences of the 750 graduates of these Sustainable Leadership programs who are designing and implementing innovative sustainable change out in the world alongside the stories of numerous pioneers of sustainability initiatives, all of whom we have had the privilege to work with, who are pushing ahead even though they don't have all the answers.

Sustainability is a journey

It is common for sustainability leaders to hold a clear a vision of where they would like to be and at the same time understand the current state of their organization's practices. This gap creates a dynamic tension for action.

Too big of a gap can also prevent action as people sometimes feel that they have too far to go, resulting in avoidance. A change leader acts as a bridge, holding this tension by creating a path so that people can catch the vision and have the courage to begin.

People and organizations can become depleted if they see too big a gap between where they are and where they want to be. A change leader can reduce this gap by asking where the organization is currently sustainable and identifying what is already working. Instead of focusing on problems, focus on the possibilities. This energizes people to see that there is already forward movement to build upon.

Leading sustainability efforts is never smooth, and because innovation is a series of iterative steps, you will predictably stumble a few times. It is important to keep 'falling' in the direction that you want to go, seeing each successive effort as part of a larger strategic focus. All leaders have had this experience, even if they do not readily talk about it. The most important factor is how you reset your focus and renew your momentum. Acknowledging, learning, and trying again are key actions in leading change in organizations.

New leaders need new skills

At the core of sustainable leadership is the ability to be an agile leader and facilitator of change. Agility requires advanced capabilities in strategy formation and execution in complex, multi-stakeholder environments. The systemic nature of many of these changes calls on sophisticated approaches to leading organizations and the people in them.

You must be able to navigate individual, group, and whole organizational systems to translate ideas and technical expertise into desired actions. Change leadership requires both strategic vision and day-to-day conversations as well as actions that call for a level of personal resilience and agility that can challenge the most seasoned leader.

This book was written to help you develop those capabilities and lead your organization to the change you envision.



Navigational Tools For Leaders

THE PATH TO SUSTAINABILITY CAN BE LONG, full of obstacles and opportunities for missteps, and is often uncharted. In this section, we will provide you with the frameworks and tools successful sustainability leaders use to guide their organizations toward powerful visions for the future.

Beware of benchmarking

There is no one magic path to success. Other organizations' experiences can provide inspiration and guidance, but in our experience each successful implementation is the result of many choices based on a unique set of conditions.

Leaders use a combination of approaches to create and steer the sustainability initiatives in their organizations. It can be tempting to look for best practices and apply them to your situation because they have led to success elsewhere. However, each organization has its own history, culture and special challenges, and what works for one organization will not necessarily work for another. Sustainability change is most successful when engagement and involvement is catalyzed throughout the organization.

Because of the broad systemic nature of sustainability-focused challenges, it is necessary to go slow to go fast: be willing to take more time to customize and identify unique leverage points in the beginning. We have seen a set of four actions that have framed the approaches of a number of sustainability leaders.

Sense, scout, synthesize, steer

Sustainability leaders take four repeatable navigational actions to create strategy and engage employees and communities to make change and move towards a thriving future. These actions are repeated over and over in the process of designing and implementing change. They can provide a framework for focusing and sequencing your leadership approach, over the course of multiple initiatives. By taking these actions, you will produce fresh engagement and focus, enabling follow-through and implementation to take place.

1. Sense: Identify your purpose. Connect your core values to your personal intention to become resilient and establish a foundation for leading change.

2. Scout: Look around you. Understand and appreciate the stages of transition, assess organizational and individual readiness, and identify key people and leverage points for change.

3. Synthesize: Find patterns and build commitment. Map your change journey, design, test, and evolve approaches with rapid feedback, and engage others with stories of progress.

4. Steer: Implement and calibrate. Mobilize action, track progress, encourage feedback, and continue to grow.

These actions are supported by tools and frameworks that are not specific to sustainability. They represent the approach of leaders who use their personal values to engage others in developing and implementing changes that improve performance and increase innovation. These leadership skills are not new but have been gaining validity as an alternative to more traditional tell-and-sell leadership. The most successful leaders in sustainability are using these positive, collaborative approaches to engage all levels of their organizations in continuous change.

Sense: Identify your purpose

Welcome to the world of being a change agent. Whether or not you have chosen this role for yourself, change leadership has chosen you. This is an invitation to lean into change, to take initiative for advocating and activating multiple energies to create change. Creating change in your organization means starting with yourself. An organization can only go as far as its leaders: you will only ever be able to create as much change as you can tolerate yourself. It is important to know who you are and why you're doing what you're doing. Understanding these things will provide a foundation for you to create lasting change.

Leading sustainability change requires both short-term action and long-term perseverance. There are two clear areas where successful sustainability leaders seem to excel. First, they have the ability to structure and facilitate collaborative engagement with a number of stakeholders. Second, they have the ability to stay the course as both organizational and cultural values shift.

Build personal resilience

It takes stamina to keep holding the tension between your vision for the future and the current state of the organization. Leaders of sustainability initiatives are change agents, and change agents get burned out because they care. Thankfully, you can develop the hardiness and resilience to stay the course. Here are four personal practices that people who thrive through this kind of large-scale change use as a foundation for their personal resilience, ensuring that they have the stamina for life-long contribution:

Coherence: Connect your work to your personal and professional values and passions. Create a personal story of 'why' you are doing what you are doing. Remind yourself of your story and tell it to others, and help other people come to their own understanding of why they are engaged in their work.

Control: Act where you are. Focus on things that you can influence and let go of what you can't. Start small, with your own everyday actions, habits, and choices, and let this change be a spark that ignites action in other people, building forward momentum.

Challenge: Take on things outside of your comfort zone. Identify an area that will enhance one of your strengths. Encourage yourself to find ways to go beyond your current thinking about what is possible. Be curious about what people are doing in other organizations.

Connection: Seek out other change agents and learn from their perspectives. Loners do not create much change. People change most directly from being in relationships, not from watching power points or reading memos, and your ability to emotionally connect to others will increase your ability to change. Let people know what you are doing – reach out and get encouragement from peers, and provide support to colleagues.

Application Exercise: Identify your core intention

Instead of leaving your values at the door, bring them into your work environment. Establishing a personal connection to sustainability can provide an authentic foundation for taking organizational action and creates a strong leverage point for change. Use your personal passion to identify opportunities for organizational action.

What are you passionate about?



Where does your passion come from?



What opportunities do you see for change, i.e. efficiency and brand leadership?



What personal experiences have led you to care about making changes that support more sustainable ways of doing business?



Sustainability change gains momentum

When it comes to change leadership, always remember that you are in good company. Attention to sustainability has risen dramatically in the last five years, and Accenture has been tracing the attitudes and approaches towards sustainability. Its 2011 study found that 67% of C-suite decision-makers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and China said that sustainability is very important to their company, and 72% thought the benefits of their sustainability initiatives exceeded expectations, especially around brand attributes, like improved reputation and consumer trust, and costs.

The largest barriers to driving sustainability initiatives are lack of interest and belief in benefits. These are the areas where leadership can have the most effect. Recently, a number of key thought leaders have affirmed that sustainability will be an area that leaders will need to incorporate into their strategic and operational thinking, including Santiago Gowland, formerly with Unilever and currently GM for Sustainable Business & Innovation at NIKE, who said: 'The only way to continue growing and continue being a successful business is to treat sustainability as a key business lever in the same way that you treat marketing, finance, culture, HR or supply chain.'

Sustainability as an action hub

Because sustainability represents environmental, economic, cultural, and social elements of impact, it is a big tent for gathering seemingly disconnected programs, initiatives, and efforts. For example, health and wellness promotion efforts can be seen as an extension of personal sustainability practices, a community project that supports physical exercise as well as civic engagement.

Become curious and explore opportunity

Sustainability can provide a refreshed perspective, helping you connect focused efforts to larger organizational initiatives. As you begin to look for the connections between your organizations' products, services, and strategy, you will identify relationships that may have not been fully optimized. Think beyond your usual focus and begin to see what unintended consequences emerge from the impact of your organization.

Scout: Look around you

Before rushing ahead toward your vision for the future, you need to understand how human beings respond to change and where the people in your organization are in that process. Different stages of adoption require different approaches, and using the wrong approach will result in fleeting changes rather than lasting results. This section provides you with a few different frameworks for observing and understanding what is going on around you so that you can develop appropriate strategies for achieving your goal.

Starting where you are

First, take some time to identify where your organization currently stands when it comes to sustainability. Opportunities for sustainability often manifest in multiple areas of an organization. Setting a strategy for sustainability efforts or connecting them to already existing strategic initiatives provides firm footing for building shared commitment and momentum.

Thinking about progress toward sustainability as a continuum provides a way to consolidate multiple perspectives and experiences into a continuous process. Using the following model in our consulting practice at Saatchi & Saatchi S, helped us help clients adjust their expectations and match the approach to the organizational readiness.

Each phase represents specific opportunities for sustainability activation:

Not aware: Introducing education about what others are doing. This could mean attending conferences or circulating examples of reports that demonstrate the strategic importance of sustainability.

Waking up: Connecting small actions to larger existing initiatives. Lean manufacturing efforts connect to sustainability in this stage.

Compliance: Responding to regulations so as to keep up with industry standards. Up-to-date practices are encouraged.

Operational efficiency: Targeting cost savings related to performance, efficiency, and waste. Blends with other process improvement and safety efforts.

Strategic engagement: Connecting efforts to brand positioning. This could mean engaging employees and customers to take action on behalf of values based issues.

Game changer: Making bold promises and following through on them, like committing to making the organization zero waste, or using industry visibility for leadership of innovative approaches.

Don't fall into the trap of trying to implement actions that are out of sync with your organizations' current phase – for example, wanting to launch a brand communication campaign (strategic engagement) before basic health and safety practices (compliance) are in place. An appetite for fast change has landed numerous organizations in the 'greenwashing' camp, talking the talk without walking the walk. To avoid this disconnect, keep your efforts aligned with the phase(s) in which your organization can demonstrate effective efforts. Recognize the phase in which your organization is currently functioning, and use it to guide the development of your strategy as you learn about the rest of the frameworks.


Excerpted from Leadership for Sustainability and Change by Cynthia Scott, Tammy Esteves. Copyright © 2013 Cynthia Scott and Tammy Esteves. Excerpted by permission of Do Sustainability.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION: You (Yes, You!) Can Lead Sustainability Change
* Who will find this book helpful? * Audiences for this book

1. A New Leader is Emerging
* Sustainability is a journey * New leaders need new skills

2. Navigational Tools For Leaders
* Beware of benchmarking * Sense, scout, synthesize, steer

* Build personal resilience * Application Exercise: Identify your core intention * Sustainability change gains momentum * Sustainability as an action hub * Become curious and explore opportunity

* Starting where you are * Thinking in systems * Application Exercise: Levels of sustainability in your Organization * Focus on what’s working * Holding tension * Application Exercise: Where do you hold tension? * Accelerating adoption * Application Exercise: Take a snapshot * Navigating the human side of change * Improving change adaptability * Application Exercise: Change leaders go first * The Transition Curve * How the change is initiated makes a difference * Leading change * Leading through each phase * Going beyond blame and shame * Application Exercise: Identifying signs of change

* Map the change journey * Change journey maps * Application Exercise: Mapping your change journey * High-engagement design team * A picture is worth a thousand words * Stories anchor sustainability change * Telling a good story * How to spot a good story * How to document and share stories

* Mobilize action * Measure and show results * Demonstrate commitment * Dealing with unintended consequences * Continuous learning and relearning * Ensure feedback and incorporate learning * The leadership jump * Individual resilience = organizational resilience

3. Maintaining Resilience and Agility
* Have a purpose * Transparency not perfection * Living in legacy * Make sustainability your brand * Stay strengths focused * Preventing burnout * Leading for sustainability and change

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