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Sustainable Leadership: Steering Towards a Better Tomorrow

This week we are exploring Sustainable Leadership which in my opinion has the same characteristics as Purpose-Centered Leadership. In a world where the balance between business success and societal well-being is increasingly crucial, Sustainable Leadership stands out for its long-term vision and commitment to creating a positive impact that goes beyond immediate profits. This newsletter delves into the essence of Sustainable Leadership, highlighting leaders who have exemplified this approach and hopefully challenge you to create more sustainable (purpose-centered) organizations.

Understanding Sustainable Leadership:

  • Defining Sustainable Leadership: This approach involves leading with a focus on creating enduring value for both the organization and society. It encompasses environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and ethical governance.

  • The Pillars of Sustainable Leadership: These include long-term thinking, inclusivity, ethical practices, environmental consciousness, and community engagement.

My Journey with Sustainable Leadership:

In 2003, I embarked on a venture that would deeply shape my understanding of Sustainable Leadership. I founded a small nonprofit aimed at empowering the "working poor" through comprehensive support including food, clothing, counseling (both Biblical and secular), skills training, and job placement. Our growth was rapid, but it was a particular observation that truly captured my attention.

I noticed that among our organizational donors, some went beyond the routine of merely writing checks. They became deeply invested in our mission, growth, and sustainability. Intrigued, I delved deeper into their organizational cultures and discovered a profound commitment at their core – a dedication to making a tangible difference that transcended the conventional notion of "doing the right thing."

What struck me were the palpable commonalities among these organizations: they experienced less employee turnover, boasted high team morale and their members expressed genuine pride in their workplace. This was a revelation to me. These were not just leaders; they were "purpose-centered leaders" – a term I coined to describe those who lead with a vision that harmoniously blends organizational goals with broader societal impact.

Inspired by this revelation, I made a personal commitment to not only practice this brand of leadership myself but also to advocate for and nurture it in others. It became clear that Sustainable Leadership is more than a strategy; it's a mindset and a culture that, when embraced, can drive profound change both within an organization and in the wider community it serves.

This experience reinforced my belief in the power of Sustainable Leadership – leading with a conscience and an unwavering commitment to the greater good. As we step into the future, let us all aspire to be such leaders, creating ripples of positive change in an ever-evolving world.


Examples of Leaders Demonstrating Sustainable Leadership:

1.     Paul Polman (Former CEO of Unilever): Polman is renowned for integrating sustainability into Unilever's core business strategy. He championed the Sustainable Living Plan, aiming to decouple the company's growth from its environmental footprint while increasing its positive social impact.

2.     Yvon Chouinard (Founder of Patagonia): Chouinard's leadership at Patagonia has been a testament to prioritizing environmental and social initiatives. Patagonia is known for its commitment to sustainable practices and active involvement in environmental causes.

3.     Jacinda Ardern (Former Prime Minister of New Zealand): Ardern's leadership style focused on empathy, inclusivity, and a commitment to addressing climate change and social inequalities, showcasing how political leaders can also embody sustainable leadership principles.

Implementing Sustainable Leadership in Your Organization:

1.     Develop a Sustainability Vision: Articulate a clear vision that aligns your organization’s operations with sustainable principles.

2.     Foster a Culture of Responsibility: Encourage a company-wide ethos where every employee understands their role in achieving sustainable goals.

3.     Engage in Ethical Practices: Ensure your business operations and strategies are not only profitable but also ethically and socially responsible.

4.     Promote Inclusivity and Diversity: Embrace diverse perspectives and promote inclusivity as key drivers for innovative and sustainable solutions.


Conclusion: Sustainable Leadership is not just a trend; it’s a necessity in today’s world. It’s about leading with a conscience, where the focus is on creating lasting, positive change. As we continue our leadership journeys, let's aspire to be leaders who not only achieve business success but also contribute to a better, more sustainable world.

Attention Christian Businesswomen, if you would like to model your life and business based on the iconic Proverbs 31 Woman, I invite you to join me in our Proverbs 31 Club starting in February. Click here for details.

About the Author Sharon Gill is the Principal of Sharon Gill International, a purpose-centered leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. As an executive leadership coach, I combine a unique blend of corporate experience and faith-based insights. I help leaders not only excel in their professional roles but also align their leadership style with deeper values and beliefs. If you’re seeking purpose-centered leadership that merges success with spiritual growth, reach out to me via email at

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