Social irresponsibility provides opportunity for the win-win-win of Sustainable Leadership

This article looks at 11 non-sustainabile trends by government, business and individuals. The authors argue that to ignore these trends and to perpetuate them is not responsible. As leaders start to aim for maintainable, long-term practices, they should move toward an integrated, triple-bottom line approach to sustainable leadership.


There are many reasons leaders – and the population at large – focus on issues that are short-term and politically expedient, especially in the U.S.A. where planning focuses on the next quarterly report (10-Q) for a publically traded firm or the immediate election cycle for government (Bearden, Money, & Nevins, 2006; Hofstede, 2012; Minkov, & Hofstede, 2012).  There rarely is enthusiasm for addressing globally important and long-term sustainable issues, even though everyone knows it has to be done . . . eventually (Greenspan, 2010; Senge, Smith, Kruschwitz, Laur, & Schley, 2008). In politics, the political bickering is based on a zero-sum game of one or both parties lose, but rarely a win-win. During the Great Recession of 2008 and the slow recovery thereafter, government focus has been on jobs and economic development, the environment can wait (Hall, 2009, 2010b). In businesses, the CEOs can only have a couple bad quarters, no matter the achievements toward long-term goals. Sustainable leadership is a natural extension of transformational and servant leadership into the future. Successful leadership has historically been measured by narrow and short-term performance metrics. The leader of the future, the sustainable leader, needs to impart a long-term and a comprehensive vision of the future. Exhaustible production and business models that ignore externalities and long-term implications must not be perpetuated; it is irresponsible to do so. The sustainable leader must be able to win broad-based support with a sense of urgency, yet have an emphasis on future generations. Otherwise, everyone loses. Sustainable leadership will build support and enthusiasm to transform broken systems for consumption, business and politics into sustainable methods and models: a win, win, win.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Book Chapter
Hall, E. B.
Knab, E. F.
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
The refractive thinker
Social responsibility
Refractive Thinker
Date Published: 
Friday, June 1, 2012
Place Published: 
Las Vegas, NV
Publication Language: 
ISBN Number: 
Cheryl Lentz
Boyer's Domain: 



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