Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

Building Resilient Organizations

Published on May 29, 2015

Part 6 of 7 in the series: Sustainability Leadership Competencies

This is the sixth article in a seven-part series on Sustainability Leadership Competencies. To date, I have provided an overview of sustainability talent management, and have delved into the importance of systems thinkingexternal collaboration, social innovation and sustainability literacy. This time, here’s why your organization should include active values in its existing leadership competency model.

“Active values” is a business competency embraced by leaders who define success as making a positive difference in the workplace and in society as a whole. It takes both an inward and outward focus to realize the longer-term impact and the success of an organization’s sustainability efforts.

With progressive leaders showing the way, the practice of mindfulness is “quietly spreading through the business world: companies like Google offer emotional intelligence courses for employees. General Mills has a meditation room in every building on its corporate campus. And even buttoned-up Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and BlackRock are teaching meditation on the job” according to a recent article in the New York Times. Research reveals that business leaders who practice meditation make more “sustainability minded” decisions.

What is it?

This competency describes self and whole-system knowledge and awareness. It encompasses the ability to develop and pursue higher purpose within self, teams and business; to practice mindfulness; and to foster and enable personal and organizational transformation.

Why does it matter?

People follow leaders who inspire them and set an example of excellence. Making business, societal and transformational change often requires stakeholders to make a leap of faith. Organizational leaders who exhibit high emotional intelligence – that is, the ability to understand and manage their emotions and those around them – will be far more effective in influencing others to leap with them. Emotionally intelligent leaders cultivate resiliency, commitment, trust and reciprocity with their co-workers and external stakeholders.

Further, leaders with an empathic and compassionate mindset can generate product and service innovation aligned with core human values that are relevant to customers’ genuine needs and interests. Alignment of deep personal values with business, society and the planet’s needs can reduce stress, improve productivity and create opportunity and prosperity.

Through mindfulness and contemplative practices, leaders can transform existing mental models and enhance focus and commitment during challenging, ambiguous and rapidly changing situations.

What existing competencies does it build upon?

In my report I provide a set of illustrative behaviours that demonstrate proficiency at either the foundational or the advanced level of active values. Each competency builds upon and enhances existing leadership competencies and is designed to complement current organizational development processes, rather than replace them.

When thinking about active values, here’s a summary:

Builds upon these conventional competencies: Diversity, integrity and self-management
New foundational level: Personal awareness and values alignment
New advanced level: Personal transformation and higher purpose

Up next

In the last installment of this series, I’ll pull together all five interlinked competencies and share a useful visual that demonstrates how one set of behaviours reinforces another.

Eager to know more now?

If you’re keen to dive deeper into active values and the other qualities you should consider when recruiting leaders and building leadership teams, you can read the report here.

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