Sustainable Leadership Why?

Sustainability is no longer just a well-intentioned corporate initiative. It will change our economic system and the way companies are managed in the long term. People are increasingly making their buying decisions and the way they live, eat and travel in terms of the climate. Investors invest in companies and start-ups that are credibly committed to the new sustainability values ​​and take on overall social responsibility. The future is sustainable and a green new deal is required.

In my view, the Corona crisis will not change that. On the contrary: In the current corona crisis, people practice a new way of life every day, in the absence of more is less, with all the bright and dark sides of the standstill of public life.

There are new, unprecedented challenges in today's world. To face these challenges, you need a new leadership style and different leadership skills.

How can a leader make bold and innovative decisions today to decisively advance the Green New Deal in his own sphere of influence?

Every manager should face this responsibility and start setting the course for tomorrow today.

Unfortunately, there is no master switch in the brain that can only be flipped to suddenly not only think economically and sustainably, but also act economically and sustainably.

New challenges need new skills. Wash me but don't make me wet doesn't work. What works is to seize the opportunities that ecological action offers in relation to new markets and competitiveness in order to make your own organization fit for the future.

Leadership of tomorrow means learning, thinking and feeling connected, and leading with a high degree of intuition.

Crisis and insecurity have become an integral part of everyday business, but must not lead leaders to fall back on unsustainable behavior or paralysis. This applies in particular to the period after the Corona crisis, which in my view will be a fork in the road for or against the rapid implementation of the Green New Deal.

To implement this, we need leaders who are open to reinventing themselves at their core.

Our brain can change at any time if we challenge it with new stimuli and sensory requirements. This is proven by neuroscience, keyword neuroplasticity.

Recent research in ecopsychology shows that being in nature reduces stress and changes the activity in brain regions that are responsible for vegetative and emotional control and have a high impact on “high-order problem-solving”.

Networked thinking and perceiving therefore does not take place in closed and air-conditioned meeting rooms.

It takes place outside, and it takes place in a new experience setting that is outside the comfort zone.

Being able to lead sustainably is not a result of cognitive thinking and a purely economic-opportunistic motivation, but it is about the fact that a deep connection with nature can only arise through an experienced experience and direct encounter with one's own emotions, such as being overwhelmed by beauty of nature, humility in the face of its own tiny size, uncertainty and fear when confronted with extreme weather conditions and potentially dangerous animals.

Leadership does not mean knowing everything, but being open to learning new things every day. Leadership means recognizing your own vulnerability, becoming a signal receiver (instead of a transmitter), and mastering deep listening and self-monitoring. To perceive everything (“Notice everything”) and to be able to decode what is happening at any moment. To become aware of when actionism only serves the purpose of avoiding one's own discomfort and fear. Tolerate silence and distinguish between silence qualities. To create new routines and rituals and to specifically address emotions. Leaders need to get wilder about their ability to perceive.

Under no circumstances should the term "wild" be idealized. My interpretation of "wild" is neither about brutality, selection and social Darwinism in business, nor about idealization of pre-civilizational living conditions in the sense of: "Back to the cave because everything was better and more ecological back then".

In the implementation of sustainability goals, it is important to recognize many contradictions and dilemmas and to integrate them, however strenuous it may be, into your own thinking and acting. There is no black and white here, and action is far from a one-dimensional, loose-gun cowboy behavior, as is currently shown by internationally renowned politicians.

Acting and managing sustainably is an arduous process. It is about working on oneself, "Know Thyself", radically questioning patterns of thought, accepting malaise and trying to understand and perceive more deeply.

That means not doing the same thing anymore.

With the passing of old leadership reflexes and a reconnection to the origin with nature, many people could be given back the belief in "good leadership".

Almost like a kind of healing and sustainable transformation from the disconnected "elite manager" who trims every company to efficiency and whose employees are "human capital" to the leader of a meaningful new sustainable economic movement.

By Dr. Andrea Sibylle Claussen, June 2020

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