Sustainable Leadership

February 12, 2021 Open Leadership, Sustainability No Comments

Doing well by doing good. Being self-sustainable by supporting the sustainability of the whole organization and, eventually, the entire world.

This is a clear choice

It is the choice to not focus above all else on one’s position, status, money. Therefore, it is not an egoistic choice.

It is also the choice to not forget oneself in one’s doing good for others. As a matter of fact, this would not be sustainable. Therefore, it is not an altruistic (as opposed to egoistic) choice. ‘Oneself’ in this also means one’s close circle, one’s family, one’s community, one’s country even.

Starkly putting the egoistic and the altruistic choices against each other as the only two options provokes much mayhem. For instance, in ‘America First,’ a certain populist streak puts egoism against non-sustainable altruism. In this setting, people naturally choose against the latter. They do not want to ‘lose their country’ or ‘lose their freedom.’ Of course!

Sustainable leadership transcends this.

It is not egoistic nor altruistic. It is doing well by doing good. Embeddedness in wide sustainability opens new chances to be more sustainable oneself. One may welcome the opportunities.

It is also an excellent argument to be used in the context of the above kind of populism. The people should not be forgotten, especially not in their own perception of what their leader is up to.

Wanted: great communication

An essential part of sustainable leadership, therefore, lies in good communication. Even with the best intention, a leader may go forward for the good of the people and then notice that they are mistrusting. This way, the good intention may provoke much resistance with nobody understanding where it comes from.

That is because it comes from deep. It is visceral. It is nature’s calling. Going against nature is not sustainable. Therefore, sustainable leadership needs to come with great communication.

As you can see, there is a lot at stake in this at present, worldwide.

Open Leadership

Towards transcending egoism and altruism simultaneously, a leader needs ‘openness.’ At the first place towards inside. One may call this an inner congruence. The leader should be openly and consciously aware of his own inner experiences. True leadership is not bossy. It is not simply about being a good manager-of-things. It is a personal quest, a challenge, and Openness to inside. [see : “Open Leadership is Bigger than You”]

This inner openness is needed for the sustainable leader also to be open to outside. Towards true sustainability, the latter is not possible without the former. Here lies a huge responsibility for the leader.

Surely, it is not an easy feat to bring about the necessary synthesis of inner- and outer-oriented sustainability, and become a good leader in an over-complex world.

From whence?

This is also why it is difficult to ‘teach’ leadership as if it would be a straightforward part of managership. There is a lot more to leadership. It is poetry rather than prose. Towards a sustainable world, both are needed. A good manager can be a good leader. Nevertheless, ‘leadership’ is a different concept and should be taught as such.

Leadership by example?

Yes. An example is a useful element, but not sufficient nor efficient if it is not embedded in proper insight, or ‘wisdom’ if you like.


may seem an ancient thing. However, it is necessary now more than ever. The world is rapidly becoming too complex to do without. Ongoing technological developments are getting more and more dangerous if not balanced with wisdom. This needs to come also – maybe even necessarily – from leadership,

which is sustainable leadership,

which is Compassionate leadership.

[see: “Two-Sided Compassion“]

Compassion – in the broad sense, not being ‘pity’ – is neither egoism nor self-forgetting altruism. Compassion is the ability to act from one’s total being and towards other total beings. There is no floating idealism involved in this. It is extremely down-to-earth, like nothing else.

Compassion is the way of sustainable leadership.

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