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Leaders in organisations play a critical role in driving innovation and sustainability.

Seven key things that leaders need to know about innovation and sustainability and how to implement them effectively:



Understanding the business case for sustainability

Leaders need to understand the financial and strategic benefits of incorporating sustainability into their business strategy. This includes reducing costs, mitigating risks, enhancing reputation, and driving innovation.


Creating a culture of innovation

Fostering a culture of innovation that encourages experimentation, risk-taking, and collaboration is critical. This includes creating structures and processes that support innovation, such as innovation labs or cross-functional teams.


Setting clear sustainability goals

Establishing clear and measurable sustainability goals that align with their organisation’s values and priorities. These goals need to be integrated into the organisation’s overall strategy and communicated effectively to employees, stakeholders, and customers.


Investing in innovation and sustainability

Allocating resources, money, and talent, to support innovation and sustainability initiatives will create new opportunities. This includes investing in research and development, training employees on new skills, and partnering with external stakeholders.


Monitoring progress and measuring impact

Monitoring progress regularly and measure the impact of their sustainability and innovation efforts is essential for success. This includes tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and conducting regular assessments to identify areas for improvement. Organisations cannot manage what they don’t measure.


Engaging stakeholders

Engaging with a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and regulators, in their innovation and sustainability efforts essential to accelerate change. This includes listening to feedback, responding to concerns, and collaborating with them to achieve shared goals.


Leading by example

Demonstrating their commitment and leading by example to innovation and sustainability through their actions and behaviours. This includes modelling sustainable practices, promoting a culture of innovation, and being transparent about their progress and challenges.

Leaders play a critical role in driving innovation and sustainability efforts in organisations. They need to understand the business case for sustainability, create a culture of innovation, set clear sustainability goals, invest in innovation and sustainability, monitor progress and measure impact, engage stakeholders, and lead by example. By doing so, leaders can create a more sustainable future for their organisation and positive environmental and societal impacts.

Mary Cronin
Author: Mary Cronin
March 28, 2023
Mary is an innovation specialist, systems thinker and circular economy facilitator. As the founder of UpThink Innovation Agency, Mary works with SMEs and large organisations as a circular economy/climate change/ESG consultant.