Check out my recent article in Forbes.
Now Hiring CSO: Strong Interpersonal Skills a Must!
Over the past ten years, consumer expectations and competitive realities have driven more and more companies to adopt sustainability strategies and programs intotheir daily business operations.
Sustainability executives are at the helm of this corporate transformation. They are faced with the challenge of integrating social and environmental issues across all business units in order to benefit their company’s bottom line and long-term growth.
What skills and talents does it take to effectively lead this new and rapidly-evolving practiceof corporate sustainability?
I recently collaborated with VOX Global and the Net Impact team from the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeleyto find out.
We conducted an online survey of 32 senior sustainability executives and in-depth interviews with professionals from AT&T, DuPont, EMC, McDonald’s, Novelis, Hilton Worldwide, and Nixon Peabody LLC.
While they hailed from diverse companies, there were striking similarities among these sustainability leaders–particularly their ability to make a strong business case for sustainability initiatives and collaborate internally.
The study identifiedthree key attributes of successful sustainability leaders:
1. They are multi-lingual. They are able to make the business case for sustainability in a language that resonates up, down and across an organization.
2. They are collaborators. More than gaining C-Suite buy-in, four out of five respondents indicated that collaborating with colleagues at all levels inside a company was vital for success.
3. They connect the outside world to key business drivers. Theirultimate goal towin over the customer and beat the competition drives them more than pressures from non-governmental organizations like human rights advocates and environmental groups.
The report reinforces what I have seen in my placements: interpersonal skills trump all. These types of skills may be innate, but the ability to hone and accelerate them while on the job is invaluable.
Read the whole report: “Making the Pitch: Selling Sustainability from inside Corporate America.”