Examining the Evolution of Creating Sustainable Leadership

Examining the Evolution of Creating Sustainable Leadership

Emad Rahim, Terrence Duncan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6286-3.ch003
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Evolution is inevitable. In examining leadership theories over several decades, the evolution of leadership principles in terms of definition and application help shape the business industry on a domestic and global scale. Throughout the continued evolutionary period, the concept of leadership continues to encounter challenges from its practical use within organizational environments, thus presenting continuous opportunities for additional research. Such evolution is apparent in business model transitions addressing sustainability. This chapter examines the concepts of sustainability and proposed future directions calling for increased educational opportunities as the term “sustainability” grows within the business lexicon. Such educational opportunities include trainings, educational courses, and programs focused on developing collaborative relationships within the team. Developing sustainable business models are important during transformational leadership.
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Sustainability is, in a variety of ways, relative to topics of narrow and vast perspectives. For this chapter, sustainability will concentrate on the larger context of business. According to Buchanan et al. (2005, p. 190):

Sustainability is when new ways of working and improved outcomes become the norm. Not only have the process and outcome changed, but the thinking and attitudes behind them are fundamentally altered and the systems surrounding them are transformed in support.

Business strategies in today’s market include the triple-bottom line module fostering an organization’s success on profitability, sustainability, and performance. Such success is a balance of social, environmental, and employee actions working in concert with the goal of adding value to multiple stakeholders.

The leadership role is essential to establishing successful sustainability for an organization while minimally impacting the environment while maximizing value to the community. Establishing sustainability is a complex task as inputs, outputs, processes, and outcomes must be supported by intentional strategic thinking. According to Crews (2010, p. 17):

Existing theories of leadership and business strategy have traditionally been based on the role of the leader in reducing complexity and uncertainty. The effective leader is expected to gather data and conduct analysis to understand a situation, develop a strategy for the best course of action, and then lead, direct, and inspire team members around a vision for the future.

Leaders are responsible for creating the plan and ensuring its implementation. Leadership approach varies because no one way is right to accomplish this goal. Leadership styles are relative to individuals, experience, education, exposure, skill set, and personality. Transformational leaders can guide organizations through necessary change. Transformation style works by motivating and engaging employees to move in the direction the company needs to go. Transformational leaders set their expectations high and usually receive high performance in meeting challenges. “Their followers tend to be more satisfied and more committed since leaders empower them and pay attention to their individual needs and desires” (Leong & Fisher, 2011, p. 164). Transformational leaders become immersed in organizational culture as a way of understanding how employees work relative to their beliefs, work ethic, and culture. They also distinguish how company goals will be best achieved with the resources available. Transformational leaders are good role models and are described as charismatic, inspirational, intellectually developed, and relational. These components allow leaders to present challenging goals and develop employees as change agents to accomplish them. Transformational leaders believe that everyone employed in the company can contribute to positive change and will do so given the opportunity.

Key Terms in this Chapter

SWOT Analysis: A strategic analysis used to recognize strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Commonly used during in marketing and operations to determine strengths, minimize threats, and take advantage of opportunities that exist.

Sustainability: The process of an organization’s ability to manage the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line involves environmental, social, and financial demands, and is used to ensure responsibility and appropriate ethics in an effort to define success.

Organizational Readiness: Recognition of the how prepared an organization may be based on the current conditions prior to implementing change.

Stakeholders: An individual that has interest into the business. The individual could have an internal or external relationship. Such a relationship may include a direct or an indirect one.

Transformational Leadership: A style of leadership that focuses on providing people autonomy, vision, and inspiration as a means to create positive change.

Strategic Planning: An organization’s process of defining strategy, determining the direction of the organization, and establishing organizational priorities.

Transactional Leadership: A style of leadership that relies on supervision, measuring performance, and focuses on the organization’s progress on a more day-to-day basis.

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