Sustainable leadership in practice in Hungary




Atlas.ti, honeybee, interview, sustainable leadership model


'Sustainability' is one of the most widely used terms today. The practice of sustainability in organisations has been analysed from many perspectives, but fewer studies have focused on the role of leadership, specifically sustainability leadership. Sustainable leadership is not about altruism or charity work or just thinking 'green'. Sustainable leadership makes organisations more competitive, more resilient, faster, more responsive and more attractive to customers. It helps attract talented employees and makes businesses more attractive to investors. Ensuring these conditions is a major management challenge. The aim of this research is to assess the extent to which Hungarian managers are prepared to meet the requirements of sustainable management. The research model, the pyramid of sustainable leadership is based on the belief that leaders should pay attention to social and environmental issues and encourage organisational learning and development. The sustainable leadership pyramid details the three pillars of social, environmental and economic sustainability. These pillars must be balanced to ensure sustainable management. Learning and development form the basis of the pyramid, and social and environmental responsibility and economic performance build on this. The research is based on interviews with 32 top managers of SMEs, using the elements of Avery and Bergsteiner's sustainable management pyramid as the basis for the interview questions. The structured interviews took the form of face-to-face discussions. The questions addressed all elements of the pyramid. Audio recordings of the recorded interviews were transcribed and analysed using the Atlas 8 software. The results show that the elements of the pyramid as elements of expectations for sustainable leadership are only partially reflected in management practice. The most significant gap is in the implementation of the elements of the pyramid presenting the steps of the knowledge management process. The Honeybee philosophy as a contribution to the competitive advantage of organisations is only partially implemented, and overcoming the gaps is a major challenge. The research provides a new approach to sustainable management expectations and valuable lessons for SME managers. Future research will aim to expand the sample for international comparison.