Theoretical Research into Leadership for Sustainability


  • Ioana-Alexandra Sbîrcea University Politehnica of Bucharest, Doctoral School of Entrepreneurship, Business Engineering and Management, Department of Industrial Engineering, Bucharest, Romania



Leadership for sustainability, Sustainability, Sustainable development, Spiritual leadership, Sustainability leadership


Given the social and environmental challenges facing all organizations, there is a need for new leadership models, methods, and tools for implementing organizational change for sustainable development. Thus, throughout this article, it is reviewed the current approaches to leadership for sustainability in terms of their conceptual frameworks and extant research, which all advocate a balanced stakeholder approach to leadership to address the social and environmental issues related to sustainability and sustainable development. Being drawn from spiritual and centered on leadership theories, the article offers a Global Leadership for Sustainability model that incorporates and extends the conceptual domain beyond current approaches to leadership for sustainability. Spirituality, through the qualities of self-transcendence and interconnectedness, is critical for sustainability and fundamental for Global Leadership for Sustainability. The article also emphasizes the importance of cultivating a Global Mindset for Sustainability, which incorporates two ethical principles—an ethic of remote moral responsibility and an ethic of care and compassion. As a result, global leaders for sustainability become more committed to moving beyond satisfying stakeholders’ demands for economic returns, towards a more sustainable, triple-bottom line, balanced approach. Finally, we discuss implications for theory, research, and practice. Global leaders for sustainability are consequently more dedicated to adopting a triple-bottom-line, balanced approach that goes beyond meeting stakeholders' needs for financial gains. To change the paradigm of leadership and develop leaders who can cooperate to tackle difficult sustainability challenges, sustainability education is crucial. An up-to-date and broadened understanding of leadership is what ‘leadership for sustainability' means, putting sustainable values into practice, leading from a paradigm of living processes, and developing an inclusive, collaborative, and reflective leadership style. To make recommendations for best practices in leadership development, this study reviews and integrates literature on leadership, leadership development, and sustainability education. The following are some recommended pedagogical strategies for developing leaders: self-observation and awareness, contemplation, inquiry into various and ecological viewpoints, experiential learning, and community engagement.