Tag Archives: Jeffrey Hollender

Qualities of Sustainability Leaders: The Short List

A short list of five qualities I have found in sustainability leaders and now “findable” in abundance at EarthSayers.tv, the voices of sustainability.

Now that I live and work in a community where there is much more support for sustainability I don’t have to spend as much time doing missionary work on the relevancy of it, but I do talk more about leaders and why sustainability leaders need to ban together and become much more visible, not just on EarthSayers.tv, but, locally in their communities.

At the same time I have been listening to leadership experts who generally don’t reference sustainability (more missionary work needed here), but who have been talking about the qualities of leadership that are lacking and, as Bill George of Harvard and a member of the Board of Exxon Mobile and Goldman Sachs observes;  it is a”failure of leadership” that has put our country at risk. Of course it’s not just our country is it? Back to Professor George in a minute.

Based on what two leadership experts are talking about and my own experience reviewing hundreds of speeches and interviews,  here is a short list of the qualities I have found in  sustainability leaders:

(1) Givers not takers.

Sustainability leaders don’t fit the old model of leadership as detailed in a speech to the Google folks by leadership expert Bill George of Harvard University. On what basis have we been choosing our leaders? “More for charisma, than character, more for style than substance, more for their image than their integrity.  Not very authentic people, smart, but not committed, takers rather than givers.”  Just give a listen to B Corporation members, there are over 200 of them, as the “B” is “for benefit.” Here are three on EarthSayers, including the cofounder of B Corps, Jay Gilbert.

Jay Coen Gilbert, B Corporation; Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation; Miranda Magagnini, IceStone.EarthSayer.tv Sustainability Leaders

(2) Motivators

Again from Bill George: “Economists told us for many years that people only interested in money. Not motivating people. Today we want to find meaning and significance in our work.

Over 90% of the voices on EarthSayers.tv have motivated me to continue with my work and many in different ways emphasize the significance of taking the first step.  I don’ think anyone says this better and more simply than Kip Ward, owner of a completely recycled motel in the beach community of Lincoln City, Oregon. Give a listen to what Kip has to say and my thanks to both Kip and filmmaker, producer Barry Heidt of Lincoln City, Oregon who understand the significance of Earthsayers.tv and produced this for EarthSayers.

(3) Different and Humble

According to Blair Sheppard, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, company recruiters are saying they need a “different kind of person. (They) need a person who is more of a leader, but humble.”  I think the collection of leaders on EarthSayers demonstrates how different the sustainability leadership is, you can hear and see it for yourself.  Experts and leaders such as the head of Common Cause, Bob Edgar, all say the same thing: “We are all called to be leaders.”

(4) Multi-cultured

Here’s Dean Sheppard. “If you think about the structure of the problems businesses are grappling with today, more and more of it requires that people work effectively with other people, often times from different civilizations from their own. “ It’s not just businesses is it?

Organizations such as the Ecotrust recognize the most innovative indigenous leaders for their efforts to improve conditions in their communities through award programs and public events. There is Kavita Ramdas, President and CEO of the Global Fund For Women and then there is the The Goldman Environmental Prize, world’s largest award for grassroots environmentalists.

That’s my short list for now. It will grow as we add more and more sustainability leaders to EarthSayers.tv.  Oh wait, I forgot the last one.

(5) Visible.

With the help of Chelsea Peil, community developer, and Barry Heitd we are establishing local offshoots of EarthSayers starting with the Portland Sustainability Leadership Channel and the SeaStar Sustainability Leadership Channel, an ecotourism-focused channel for Lincoln City, Oregon.  This is a simple, easy- to- put- into- action model for bringing a focus on the leaders in local communities using YouTube channels and, internationally, through connection to the EarthSayers network.  Robert Seireeni in his book, The Gort Cloud, references “The Invisible Force powering today’s most visible Green Brands.” Well, it’s time to get visible.

A Business Agenda to Write Home About

What would be on your agenda if you were to meet with the President?  Here is what was on Jeffrey Hollender’s agenda when he met with the President’s transition team last January.  Jeffrey is President of Seventh Generation and a strong sustainability advocate.

  1. Mandatory, GRI-based Corporate Responsibility reporting
  2. Eliminate tax incentives that support environmentally damaging industry (i.e. Exxon)
  3. Reform the metrics we use to evaluate the health of our society & our economy. Replace the GNP with the Gross National Happiness Index.
  4. Develop a road map to transition to full-cost accounting (which will prevent companies from externalizing costs) and level the playing field for responsible businesses

I’m with him on this.  He also thinks this is “the chance of a lifetime to revolutionize the role that business plays in society” and like him,  I am cautiously optimistic.

Here are the other topics he will cover in his follow-up memo to the administration:

  1. National health care that’s not linked to employment
  2. Publicly financed elections
  3. Incentivize employee ownership through additional tax benefits and ESOP financing
  4. Complete the Attorney General’s new environmental marketing guidelines and then ensure compliance
  5. Prevent shareholders who haven’t held stock in a company for at least one year from voting their proxy.
  6. Dramatically increasing short-term capital gains rates.
  7. Limit senior management salaries to 50 times that of the average employee in the company
  8. Encourage multi-stakeholder coalitions that bring together business, labor, NGOs, community groups, and religious organizations, and insist they resolve critical issues (i.e., sustainable palm oil, cocoa)
  9. Teach systems thinking in public schools
  10. Invest in education and place economic value in the caring professions: teaching, nursing, homemaking, elder care.

Good topics for conversation at work, in your home, at school and at play.