• Behavioural competencies of sustainability leaders: An empirical investigation

      Knight, Beth; Paterson, Fred; University of Derby; University of Cambridge (Emerald, 2018-05-14)
      Purpose: Our world faces greater environmental, social and governance challenges than ever before and a growing number of organisations are establishing sustainability functions, strategies and plans in an effort to address these complex issues. However, limited research exists on the critical behavioural competencies required to maximise leadership impact on sustainability initiatives. With the stakes so high and the task so complex, this empirical study identifies key behavioural competencies of corporate sustainability leaders and sets out a model for assessing these behavioural competencies. Design: Based on a review of the empirical literature, the study sets out five competency groupings, which informed a hypothesis. This was tested quantitatively via a self-report tool that enabled a quantitative analysis of behavioural competencies. Contributions from 97 participants were triangulated with data collected from colleagues who rated the participants on the same set of competencies. Findings: Ten critical and ten prominent behaviours of Sustainability Leaders in five competency groupings were idenified. The analysis also explored how the business sector, location, years of experience and level of qualification impacted upon the sample Sustainability Leaders’ perceived effectiveness. Research limitiation/implications: The sample size means that the competency model derived from the findings should be seen as propositional and requiring further validation. Impact measures would add considerable robustness to the findings. Practical implications: The research offers a means to better focus and tailor leadership development experiences and as a tool for the recruitment of Sustainability Leaders. Originality/value: The study is based on a robust quantitative approach, and the behavioural competency model developed as a result provides a tool for Sustainability Leaders to map current behaviours and monitor their progress over time. Keywords: Corporate social responsibility; sustainability; leadership; behavioural competency; leadership development Paper type: Research paper