Sustainable leadership & organisations

Sustainable leadership & organisations

This research area examines theories and practices of sustainable leadership from organisations and literature across the globe, synthesising them into a coherent model and exploring how organisations can best implement these into the way they work every day.

Researcher expertise

Better Performance and a Better World, Sustainability, Leadership.

Who this research helps

Senior Executives.

Research overview

Examines theories and practices of sustainable leadership from organisations and literature across the globe. Synthesises them into a coherent model and explores how organisations can best implement these into the way they work every day. 


  • Why sustainable organisations rode the GFC with little more than a performance blip while many traditionally led ones required huge government bailouts
  • How organisations can move towards sustainable leadership models without compromising productivity or performance
  • What leaders and executives should do to ensure their organisations engage with and maintain sustainable principles and practices
  • How business and management schools can contribute to developing and implementing sustainable practices.

Sustainable leadership research in practice

Senior executives from major organisations around the world have applied the 23 principles, practices, beliefs and behaviours of leadership of the sustainable leadership pyramid to their own enterprises.

In Australia, Asia and Europe, this has led to discussions at executive level and attempts to better align practices to the sustainable leadership pattern in enterprises across many different sectors – from pharmaceuticals, finance and retail, to construction, manufacturing, government and non-profits.

Research streams

Foundation practices of sustainable leadership

This research stream:

  • Analyses 14 foundation practices of sustainable leadership and areas of focused and rapid organisational implementation
  • Examines real world examples against non-sustainable practices
  • Illustrates core advantages of sustainable alternatives

Examples include employee development, stakeholder management, succession planning, valuing staff, ethical behaviour, environmental responsibility and many others.

Higher-level practices of sustainable leadership

Covers studies of the six higher-level practices of sustainable leadership that organisations - having already adopted the foundation principles - should expect to manifest.

It examines:

  • Devolved and consensual decision-making
  • Self-managing employees
  • Team orientation
  • Enabling organisational cultures
  • Processes for developing and retaining knowledge
  • Organisational trust.

Identifies how each of these practices contributes to, and results from, an organisation’s focused and ongoing engagement with sustainable leadership.

Key performance drivers of sustainable organisations

Analyses how customers experience the effects of long-term sustainable, organisational leadership.

Focusing on their experiences of product quality and innovation, and engaged staff and service, it examines how sustainable practices enable organisations to:

  • Better integrate their activities with complex and varied stakeholder expectations
  • Study the  branding, satisfaction and productivity pay-offs that result.

Measuring sustainable practice in action

Aims to:

  • Capture sustainable practices in action
  • Measure how they directly influence an organisation’s performance outcomes.

It facilitates an understanding of the relationship between these practices and:

  • Financial outcomes
  • Brand and reputation enhancement
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Shareholder value.

The ultimate objective of this stream is to enable the value an enterprise generates for all stakeholders to be assessed.

Find a Sustainable Leadership & Organisations research academic.

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