Leadership is much-discussed in the world of business — how to recruit, train, and retain talent are perennial topics on the agenda, and most often, good leadership is defined by traits such as great communication skills, the ability to delegate, empowerment, and integrity. And while these are undoubtedly important attributes in order to lead successfully, being a leader in today’s world requires additional traits, such as those encompassed in the three C’s — Curiosity, Courage, and Collaboration.

They are needed because we have entered an era that is defined by the recognition that we all share a responsibility to shape the world we live in with regards to sustainability, diversity, and inclusion (and beyond) — and the responsibility doesn’t start and end at home, it carries over into all aspects of life, private and public, home and work, in big ways and small.

The reasons for this shift are many — awareness of issues facing our global society, demands by younger generations of workers to make sustainability, diversity, and inclusion a natural part of business, and of course, a realization that there are business opportunities to be had.

As Olio’s co-founder Tessa Clarke says on simplybusiness.co.uk with regards to the concept of profit with purpose: “There’s a whole new generation of consumers — Gen Z and millennials — who are recognizing that profit and purpose are inextricably linked.” She adds: “Any business that does not truly embed profit with purpose into its DNA will lose its license to exist, I’d like to say within the next five years, but certainly within the next 10-20 years.”

And things are changing — a number of companies have been launched in the last few years with the purpose of doing their bit when it comes to addressing sustainability and promoting inclusion and diversity as a business idea. In addition, more and more established companies are also seeing the benefits of incorporating these practices into regular operations — when it comes to long-term costs and marketability, for example, as well as in attracting and retaining employees.

The shift in mindset can best be described as “currently evolving”, as this is still an area of learning for many business leaders. There may not be a “manual” yet to follow but the increased awareness has led to a greater willingness to look at business practices from the perspective of sustainability and to change goals to also include actions and benchmarks in these areas.

Globiana coach Camilla Degerth has seen this first hand with an increased desire among clients to explore ways in which these issues can be not just discussed in the workplace but also championed and implemented. Many are uncertain about where to start and how to make sure they are heard.

Oftentimes, the concerns raised in coaching reflect the insecurity an employee feels about bringing up an issue that lies outside their realm of responsibility, or that a leader experiences thinking they need to have all the answers. Some of the common questions that come up in coaching include:

  • How can I bring up topics such as sustainability or inclusion in our business practices without losing credibility?
  • Will this be seen as an investment or a cost?
  • How will people look at me if I say we need to change our ways?
  • How can I ensure employees feel safe enough to share their thoughts and ideas?

Answering these questions is where the three C’s come into the picture because it’s the business leaders who are guided by the principles of the three C’s that are most likely to make progress and implement changes successfully. The three C’s break down as follows:

Curiosity — learn more about the issues and about ideas for how to tackle them. To have the awareness that you don’t have all the expertise.

Courage — be vulnerable and admit that you don’t have all the answers and solutions, and then the willingness to empower others to step up to the plate.

Collaboration — take the step to work together across hierarchies, ages, and roles. This is a big task but building allyships will help move projects forward.

It’s not easy to institute change — of any kind — whether it has to do with redefining how you do business, showing vulnerability as a leader, starting a new business partnership, or acknowledging that you don’t have the expertise needed to tackle a certain issue. The beauty is that in empowering — that is, letting people around you know that their voice is important and that they have something to contribute — you feed creativity and collaboration. And those are traits that are good for any business objective, period.

Much of what is discussed here is not news — from the dynamics of younger generations driving change — in the business world and beyond — to older generations being mentors and guides. What is different is perhaps the urgency felt by so many and the fact that leaders today are more visible to employees, and to the public, than ever before. The words and actions of a leader have the potential to reach far, making their sphere of influence large, which means they can impact change to a greater extent. So, the questions are what is the responsibility of business leaders, and how can they build organizations in which employees feel empowered to bring new ideas forward?

By: Felicia Shermis




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