Sustainable Leadership: Integrating Environmental Responsibility into Management Practices

What is Sustainable Leadership?

Sustainable leadership refers to the type of leadership that seeks solutions for encountering the world’s economic, social and environmental challenges. It identifies leadership as a method of influence and fragments silos to amalgamate efforts towards transformation and change (Iqbal et al., 2020). Sustainable leaders comprehend and embrace the increasing complexity; in doing so, they get accustomed to the evolving changes. Most significantly, sustainable leaders are regarded as thought leaders who view business as interlinked with the environment and people, not as specific entities. Inspired by strong values, sustainable leaders make bold moves that concern the organisation’s effect on the upcoming generations. With the skills incorporated in the management style, these leaders help their organisations prosper and expand in the long run.

Qualities of Sustainable Leaders

Given the various domains of development for sustainability leaders, the key important qualities of sustainable leaders are discussed below as follows:

  • Sustainable leaders are spiky individuals with in-depth knowledge about two or more areas of expertise (Khan et al., 2022). Across various sectors, sustainable leaders are extended to acquire long-term sustainable goals. To achieve this, they integrate the ecosystems with special features beyond the organisation by collaborating with competitors and peers.
  • Sustainable leaders are adaptive (Khan et al., 2022). This is evident as they are willing to invest in new approaches, quickly switching courses when needed, accepting failure and encouraging the team empathetically to accept the changes. With the integration of the sustainable leadership style in the organisation, innovative solutions can be used so that the changes of the future and present can be addressed.
  • Sustainable leaders do not exercise their authority over their subordinates. Instead, these leaders use values, passion, and credibility to inspire others to follow. This implies that sustainable leaders can influence others.
  • All sustainable leaders believe in having a long-term perspective. This is because many senior leaders believe in the ROI metrics. On the other hand, sustainability initiatives are complex. Sustainable leaders even embrace a worldview, and the actions related to the environment are accepted because they are trendy.

Environmental responsibility of sustainable leaders

Environmental responsibility is regarded as the main principle for sustainable leadership development. In other words, sustainable leadership ensures businesses promote ecological conservation (Franco et al. 2019). Ethical norms and values, such as pro-environmental behaviours, focus on environmental responsibilities, which help create sustainable futures. This denotes an integral element as it focuses on environmental and social responsibilities. Sustainable leaders go beyond the law to meet their environmental responsibilities. Enterprises are not only concerned about deriving economic benefits but also focus on ecological and social benefits that help support the community. As per the 2021 EY Global Institutional Investor Survey Report, almost 74 investors have stopped investing in companies with poor sustainable performance. To solve the environmental concerns related to the non-renewable use of energy, greenhouse gas mitigation, and climatic change, sustainable leaders are collaborating with leaders from all other disciplines to develop long-standing solutions, change the company culture and think creatively (Franco et al. 2019).

Examples of Sustainable Leadership

The CEO of AeroFarms, David Rosenberg, declared their mission to change agricultural practices while considering the priority of the planet and the people. The New Jersey-based organisation implemented the latest technology in plant biology and vertical farming to mend the fragmented food chain and develop ways to help cultivate and distribute fresh produce. At present, the business model of AeroFarm meets 12 out of 17 SDG goals of the UN; for this reason, it has won the Global SDG awards in 2021. The founder of Wander+Ivy looked into the problem of wine waste, which was assumed to be a $1.3 billion problem globally, by collaborating with wine producers who follow sustainability, such as using organic grapes in reusable glass bottles. The organisation ensured that people could enjoy their wine sip without compromising sustainability and quality.

Principles of Sustainability Leadership

Sustainable leaders develop a worldview that is characterised by systematic and ecocentric. This worldview denotes that human beings comprise an integral part of the global ecosystem; thus, sustainable leaders think systematically to reduce the impact on natural ecosystems (Franco et al. 2019). Concerning the impact, the worldview shapes the choices made by the leaders and those things that drive sustainable initiatives. Sustainable leaders perform in a cross-boundary network, which includes some authorising leaders such as politicians and CEOs. In addition to this, the network might comprise champion-type leaders at the political, executive and project levels. Sustainable leaders focus on that leadership role, which helps in bringing a positive impact on the environment. Sustainable leaders spend much time working across boundaries related to the industry sectors, organisational units, professional discipline and government levels. Instances of cross-boundary challenges include creating a national energy policy in Australia, which reduced greenhouse gases and helped create more sustainability. Sustainable leaders also remind us that the success of an organisation is not only driven by authority but success is also determined by influence. In addition to this, sustainable leaders prefer to work with complexity. Moreover, sustainable leaders collaborate with all stakeholders to address the challenges while showing empathy and persistence. They are always competitive, for they thirst to acquire more knowledge. In addition, sustainable leaders possess strong communication skills, which help them collaborate with the stakeholders.

Why are Organisations giving importance to sustainable leadership?

Sustainable leaders integrate environmental responsibility into management practices. It is noted that businesses are facing challenges of climatic risks both financially and physically. Approximately 68 out of 77 industries are impacted by climatic risk, as per the reports of the Value Reporting Foundation. It was observed in the agricultural sector that climatic disasters and increasing temperatures have created food insecurity and droughts in many areas of Latin America and Italy. In addition to this, climatic change is affecting energy companies and the global supply chain. As the companies are viewing the long and short-term consequences of the climatic change, they are also looking for sustainable strategies to acquire increased financial value. Investigated by Harvard Business Review that sustainability helps generate increased finance that develops the overall profitability in the entire food chain. Furthermore, the financial gains by the company are due to the customers’ expectations for sustainable organisations and products. The Harvard Business Review further suggested that non-sustainable products bring down the company’s financial gains. Another reason for the growth of sustainable leadership is the potential to attract talent. People tend to select those organisations that support sustainable leadership. Even when employment is determined, maximum workers consider the organisation’s sustainability efforts, as they are more conscious of ESG issues.

What sustainable leaders can do in the present day?

Though there is an increase in sustainable leadership roles, such as chief sustainability officers and ESG, there is a need for all the leaders and board members to create competencies around sustainability. Even the investors want to know whether the organisation follows sustainable practices. Furthermore, they show interest in knowing whether stakeholders know about sustainable practices and risk management issues. Sustainable leaders educate themselves to create a climatic risks competency while gaining insight into the organisation-specific global warming, risk literacy, and international debate to show that eagerness to engage (Franco et al. 2019). Thus, sustainable leaders develop a lucid business case that adheres to the environmental goals with the objectives of the business while maintaining a competitive advantage. It focuses on engaging multiple stakeholders who would help deliver the change with the potential of putting together the contrasting parts of an organisation to accomplish the organisational goals. Sustainable leaders create a climatic action plan that defrays four areas, such as decarbonisation—for instance, calculating and taking initiatives to reduce carbon emissions to become more energy efficient. Resilience and adaptation include taking initiatives to reduce the risk of overheating and flooding. Biodiversity, for instance, engaging with the Climatic Action Award. Green Career and climatic education help enrich knowledge and detailed teaching about climatic change. Thus, Sustainable leaders understand the climate’s long-term impact and the environmental action they shall take.


  • Iqbal, Q., Ahmad, N.H., Nasim, A. and Khan, S.A.R., 2020. A moderated-mediation analysis of psychological empowerment: Sustainable leadership and sustainable performance. Journal of Cleaner Production, 262, p.121429.
  • Khan, I., Zakari, A., Zhang, J., Dagar, V. and Singh, S., 2022. A study of trilemma energy balance, clean energy transitions, and economic expansion in the midst of environmental sustainability: New insights from three trilemma leadership. Energy, 248, p.123619.
  • Franco, I., Saito, O., Vaughter, P., Whereat, J., Kanie, N. and Takemoto, K., 2019. Higher education for sustainable development: Actioning the global goals in policy, curriculum and practice. Sustainability Science, 14, pp.1621-1642.


1. What do you mean by sustainable leadership?

Ans: Sustainable leadership refers to the management approach that addresses economic, environmental and social challenges. Sustainable leaders embrace the world’s increasing complexity, and in this regard, they become more adaptable. In other words, these leaders are regarded as long-term thinkers who visualise the environment and people as crucial aspects of the business.

2. What are the principles of sustainable leadership?

Ans: Sustainable leaders develop a long-term orientation and tend to focus on the greater environmental issue. They focus on the persistence of commitment and relationship building while possessing excellent communication skills.

3. What is the attitude of sustainable leaders towards the environment?

Ans: A sustainable leader always finds solutions for encountering economic challenges. They conduct business operations in a manner that will not affect the environment. The management practices always adhere to environmental laws.

4. State the qualities of sustainable leaders.

Ans: Sustainable leaders are adaptive and do not exercise authority over their subordinates. They always develop a long-term perspective while making decisions and possess in-depth knowledge about two or more fields of expertise.

5. Mention one example of sustainable leadership.

Ans: The CEO of AeroFarms decided to alter agricultural practices by implementing the latest technology. This was done to prioritise both the people and the planet.

Author Bio: Mark Edmonds, a committed proficient at Academic Assignments, leads greatness in management assignment help. Enthusiastically for manageability, he spans environmental responsibility and compelling management practices, as obvious in his clever work “Sustainable Leadership: Integrating Environmental Responsibility into Management Practices.” Mark’s skill enables understudies to get a handle on the crucial nexus between leadership, environment, and management, cultivating a more splendid, more mindful future for organizations and then some.