Leadership for Sustainable Development

Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demands qualified, diverse, and result-oriented leaders to lead teams and celebrate the success for the present and future generations.

Sustainable Development is a global roadmap for each country to align their development in
economic, social, and governance sectors with sustainability and prosperity for present and
future generations. Countries have the liberty to design, implement, and evaluate their
interventions aligned with the UN 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Our world is diverse with various levels of mindset, thought, language, faith, and several other
beauties within nations. We have many regional and international companies, for-profit and nonprofit organizations with variety in their size and capital, which has provided decent work to
individuals from diverse backgrounds. There is a significant need to manage the workplace
inclusively considering differences in values, cultures, viewpoints, backgrounds, and several
other aspects. This can happen only by wise, smart, equipped, and motivational leadership. The
leader requires the right communication channel with various skills to adapt quickly to the
working environment and lead the employees in achieving the objectives. In an international
environment, organizational culture can be a vital element because having staff members from
different cultures sends the message that something that you may think is right can be wrong
from an individual perspective or culture. It is better to know your employees fast and ensure
that nothing will go wrong and affect the organization negatively.


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Why Leadership Is Important in Sustainability

The concept of development in sustainability cannot be integrated well enough without
leadership. Leadership in an organization or company unites a group of staff to achieve specific
goals. Leader in SD aligns human capital, organizational structure, and social development
within well-defined administration to achieve common development goals. According to
AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run organization since 1948, leaders for achieving SDGs
should possess four key qualities: empower others, be solution-oriented, be self-aware,
and act as world citizens. A leader should have self-awareness about their capabilities,
strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities ahead within the working environment. Lack of confidence
and awareness will mark them as a fanatic leader, influencing the organization’s image indoor
and outdoor, the resignation of key highly qualified human capital, and high cost to recover from
this downfall.

Next, the leader should possess the skills to empower fellow colleagues by sharing their
knowledge and in exchange receiving new skills. For a leader being a global citizen is putting
themself up to date with trends happening around the country or globally and finding ways how to
contribute or integrate them into the organization. For instance, corporate social responsibility is a new
sustainability term to share a brief report from your supply and value chain sustainability to the
public along with your financial investment in sustainability services/products. The last
quality is being solution-oriented and thinking outside of the box.

A wise leader promotes optimism, draws clear vision, creates future imagination as reality,
reflects on current challenges as opportunities, and defines milestones in achieving objectives. A
leader in SD should pave the ground for cooperation and interaction.

Nowadays, corporate leaders are forced to align their operations with sustainable financial value
and outcomes along with the increase in cooperation with peers and social responsibility reporting to
the public. According to data collected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2020, 65% of staff
favor a sustainable working environment, and 66% of customers are planning to buy sustainable
products. There has been a 28% increase in sustainable investment.


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Sustainability DNA

There is a sustainability DNA concept, which requires corporates’ new business models and
talent acquisition strategies to work together in a stakeholder-centric format. The sustainability
DNA consists of 21 practices that originate from 10 enablers with a clear objective to facilitate
human connection, collective decision-making, and accountability for transparency. At its core
are five factors of responsible leadership for leaders: stakeholder inclusion, emotion and
intuition, mission and purpose, technology and innovation, and intellect and insight. It
emphasizes on organization and its leadership to take into account: 1) human dignity with
diversity, inclusion, equality, and opportunity, 2) having a tangible focus on environmental issues
and stakeholder welfare, 3) open communication channels for feedback, 4) healthy workplace
with active resilience, 5) having transparency and accountability in the organization, 6) quality,
environment and labor standards, 7) sustainable operations, 8) data and privacy protection with
further innovation and development, 9) human capital development, and 10) performance and
reporting internally and externally with risk management and assessment.


Illustration: metamorworks/shutterstock.com


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