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Sustainable leadership: Innovation means survival

To keep any business sustainable, agile and resilient in an increasingly uncertain future, it is imperative to dare innovate – even before innovation is needed

Journalist, Philip Nordentoft

Now, more than ever, business leaders across the globe, in small corporations as well as big corporations, need to recognize the need for a sustainable transformation – even if this means reimagining the whole company. Founder of the think tank, Hack Future Lab, and outspoken expert on the future of leadership, Terence Mauri, advocates for new mindsets throughout the world of business.

“We need a new mindset for the new world. Pandemic, regulations, climate changes and disruptions are causing the world to move faster than ever before, demanding immediate action,” he states.

In this call for action, it comes as no surprise, that sustainability is a central keyword.

“Our planet is on life support. We are on a dangerous infliction point at this moment in human history. Therefore, sustainability is absolutely crucial, when leading on towards the future. A future, where the only certainty is uncertainty,” Terence Mauri says.

A recent study (shown on the illustration below) carried out on 2200 leaders within the EGN community, backs up Terence Mauris statement on the increasing uncertainty.

Illustration showing future uncertainty

Hermés and the sustainable fake leather

One of the corporations, that Terence Mauri has helped advice on future resilience, is taking on the battle with uncertainty. The 185-year-old company Hermés, coming from traditionally fabricating expensive leather saddles, have recently started selling their sought-after designer bags made from a mushroom-based supplement to leather. An executive decision made on the acknowledgement, that sustainable reimagination is key.

“Hermés recognized that not taking risks is the biggest risk of them all. It is such a good example of changing before the need to change. Staying two steps ahead of future problems.”

Some of Hermés super expensive bags are now fabricated from a mushroom extracted product called mycelium. This is made possible for Hermés by entering a partnership with the biomaterial company MycoWorks. A collaboration born from the idea, that risks always are more rewarding than conserving a weak strategy.

Stora Ensos total transformation

Another corporation, that Terence Mauri highlights as an example of positive transformation, is Finnish based paper and pulp company Stora Enso.

“Stora Enso had made paper for 900 years, when they realized, that changes in society caused their business model to no longer be sustainable. Now they are generating more than 70 percent of their revenue on renewable materials.”

By changing their business model completely, Stora Enso will remain competitive in the future, while still holding on to their valuable image and history.

“Reimagining and innovating is also a question of deciding, what part of a legacy, that are assets and worth building on;” Terence Mauri says.

Sustainability is happiness

Business leaders need not only to think sustainable when it comes to production. Focus on a sustainable work life are increasing.

“20 percent of the workforce has already mentally quit their jobs, stress and the sensation of feeling burned out is everywhere. This needs to change. As a leader, you can improve conditions for your staff by acknowledging their need for the following four sensations:”

  1. Inclusion: The sensation of belonging at a place
  2. Learning: The sensation of being able to take risks without fearing the consequences
  3. Contribution: The sensation of having a voice
  4. Challenge: The sensation of being able to challenge and change the status quo.

It is pivotal for leaders to rethink sustainability into every aspect of their company, if they wish to be able to scale an agile and resilient future.

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