In our experience and prior research, communications is key to success for the sustainability professional. Yes, communications is a tool, but the first skills needed are communications: both internal, external and collaborative. Marketing internally is simply rallying the troupes, and demonstrating the case, including the value proposition. Externally, it is some combination of public relations, promotion, marketing and sales in order to demonstrate the value to customers business partners and the public.
Getting the government to work with, not against, sustainability is often very tricky since there are often many players with very short term interests that run against sustainability (real estate developers, coal and oil, for example).
So let's gauge the 8 attributes (although I don't think they were in any particular order) by Langert toward the level of communications involved:
- Courage. Courage to speak up for what is the right thing to do.
- Collaboration. This is the one factor that fully requires communications at all levels. Plus it is one of the main attributes of traditional leadership: collaborative vs. authoritative.
- Cheerfulness. Funny, but true.
- Charisma. A traditional leadership approach/style that has been demonstrated to work in getting people to follow a leader.
- Humility. Being humble does require a special kind of communications.
It does give those of us who are trying to be successful in sustainability efforts, something to think about.