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Three Ways to Develop Your Inner Leadership (and Why Leaders of Sustainable Brands Should Care)

Whether you are a business leader or a MapQuest user, knowing where you are and where you want to go is important. But if you’re a leader of a sustainable brand, this is only the beginning. Who you are at your core now counts more than ever. Far more people now know which leaders and companies are living and breathing sustainable values and practices and who isn’t, thanks to social media and Internet watchdog technologies. Leaders who really walk the talk of their sustainable brand have a kind of resonance that allows them to attract and retain the best employees who can deliver top quality products and services. They also are the ones who are most likely to connect, inspire, and enroll customers, build market share, and contribute toward a more sustainable world.

So how can you develop an even more resonant personal brand of leadership, one with profound integrity, authenticity, and self-awareness that inspires your employees and attracts new customers? Here are three ways to consider:

1. Get absolutely clear on what matters to you. Consider the following questions (which you have probably explored before) and challenge yourself to answer them in more nuanced ways: What’s your higher purpose? What makes you come alive? What’s the legacy that you want to leave behind? What qualities and traits in yourself do you need to cultivate in order to do what you want to do? Michele Hunt’s article, 10 Character Traits of Today's Leaders is a wonderful summary of the kind of sustainable attitudes that create deep resonance. Take a look at it and identify your own opportunities for growth. Describe what you stand for as you do what you do.

2. Understand how your mindset is driving your results.We all get stuck somewhere. While usually there are external circumstances that we can point to that hold us back, we also have assumptions about what is possible, what’s at risk, and many other dimensions of those circumstances based on our particular worldview. These assumptions frame the perspective we take on the situation, the options we see, and the options that we don’t see. When we can identify the assumptions that are holding us back and consciously act on new, more empowering assumptions, new possibilities open up to us.

To see how this applies to yourself, pick a challenge where you feel stuck and ask yourself, what assumptions do you hold about this challenge? (Write them down.) Which of them are holding you back? Of those that are holding you back, identify those which you would be willing to challenge for the sake of an experiment. Then identify some new assumptions which you also know to be true, and which would be less likely to hold you back if you were to act on them. Decide what actions you will take based on these new assumptions, and conduct an experiment by acting on them and seeing how your results change. Not only are you likely to get better results for the particular issue at hand, but you also are likely to get insights into the mindset you are bringing to all of your challenges.

3. Stay the course – By late January, most people have broken their New Year’s resolutions. This is usually because of two reasons: their fundamental mindset has not shifted, or if it has, they do not have adequate structures to maintain this mindset and their new behaviors. To be successful in staying a new course, we need practices that help us access our own deeper wisdom regularly, reinforce our commitment to what we want and what we stand for, and help us stay accountable for staying on track. Daily structures that can help reinforce this include journaling, meditation, being in nature, running, swimming, gardening, reading, and talking with someone we trust who will tell us if we are walking our talk. On a weekly or biweekly basis, other structures such as executive coaching, mastermind groups, therapy, and faith based activities can be particularly powerful. Finally, at least once a year, retreats that take us out of our normal environment and support us to reflect deeply over a sustained period of time are useful.

When we just want to turn a short term profit, we need to be smart. To create a thriving and sustainable business while contributing to a flourishing world, our mission, values, and thinking needs to be far deeper, broader, and wiser. When we commit to being this wiser leader, do the necessary inner work, and put effective structures in place to stay the course, we build our capacity for creating a resonance in our leadership that will inspire and call others forth, and create far more powerful results.

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