Sustainability is about setting behaviours in place which ensure that things work, without you being on top of everything all the time.

It gets you a life! Frankly if you do much of the stuff you’ll find elsewhere on this site, it will happen – no problem. So here you’ll find some of the keys to it all.

“Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it.”

Warren Bennis

You know – it’s not that difficult! Sustainability is about giving permission to your people to do what they do best. Trust them to get on with their jobs, in the knowledge that if you train them well – giving them the information and skills they need, and then get out of their way, they really will deliver consistently in the future.

Top Ten Things About Sustainability

Want to know a great test of Sustainability?

Does it work as well (or better) when you are
not there, as it does when you are there?

Sustainability is about the culture you leave as your business legacy, because if you change your organisation’s culture for the better, it will last as people come and go – it will truly be ‘just the way we do things around here’. And it will last.

The best at Sustainability

  1. Develop Relationships
    They are great communicators, develop trust,  promises and are honest. With their charisma, they are respected and have fun along the way.
  2. Set Standards Clearly
    They ensure that their standards are clear, consistent and expressed in ways that others understand. With integrity, they model behaviours so that others can see what good looks like.
  3. Make People Accountable
    And once standards are clear, everyone really understands what is expected of them. Under-delivery is challenged, firmly and fairly until excellence is achieved. That excellence is always recognised with thanks and appreciation.
  4. Constantly Upgrade
    Those best at delivering Sustainability seek for more. They approach achievement with seeking the next level and whilst satisfied, look for more. There is no resting on laurels. It’s that upward spiral of success, leading to more success. More personal achievement.
  5. Let Go
    These people are great at giving their job away. Rephrase – they are great at giving those parts of their job away that aren’t theirs. So, they are very particular about what they do – and they let others get on with the rest. Train>support>coach>delegate.
  6. Take Risks with People
    To stretch and develop their people, great advocates of Sustainability give people their head. Through their knowledge of individuals, risk is reduced, and chances are calculated. This is hugely developmental and builds confidence – a foundation stone for a fabulous business culture.
  7. Are Gentle with Mistakes
    People do get things wrong sometimes. And the best at developing sustainable futures help their people learn from things going wrong. It’s stretching their capability muscle – and stretched muscles become stronger – as long as they are allowed to recover.
  8. Value Creating
    These people live by the creed of actions being able to create value. If it doesn’t, they don’t do it. And they look out for, and are sensitive to, activities that provide opportunity to build business profitably.
  9. Say No
    In order to focus on doing the good stuff, those best at Sustainability say ‘No!’ to activities which are not productive. The space this creates enables focus on challenges which create lasting growth.
  10. Take Time Off
    The acid test? They take all their time off, let others get on with it and lie on a beach somewhere, confident that all will be well, or even better than when they are there themselves. Oh yes, and they encourage this down the line for their key people to do too.

Ten Ways to be Better at Sustainability

  1. Take a Long View
    There is no need to hurry with Sustainability, so take your time and get it right slowly – this is not a race, as you will leave your legacy for years to come.
  2. Go for Ideal
    Yet it is important to have a Vision for excellence. This may, especially at first, seem unattainable, but keep it in mind and it will be easier to deliver as slices of your business slot together.
  3. Involve Your People
    Deciding what ‘good will look like’ with your people will enable them to own their progress and create benchmarks they understand.
  4. Focus on Culture
    Sustainability cannot stand on it’s own. You can’t ‘do’ Sustainability. It is a way your business is. And because of that, it is part of how everyone feels; a way of being. So checkout Creating a Winning Culture too.
  5. Build Gradually
    Set yourself milestones to enable others step-by-step. Growing accountabilities gradually, building confidence as you go is the key to Sustainability. Too fast can mean it is too uncomfortable and confidence is lost. To slow means momentum is never reached, which is a key to shifting culture permanently.
  6. Take Calculated Risks
    Part of the evolution of your business is about stretch and challenge for all of your people. As they gain in confidence, Sustainability will just happen. So by encouraging risks to be taken, individuals will progress in a safe environment, which will encourage them to do more and more.
  7. Learn from Failures
    And if things do go a bit wrong from time to time, be there to help your people learn and grow. This ‘nurturing’ of talent really helps Sustainability as their skills develop over time.
  8. Step Back
    As they evolve, you let them go. Nothing encourages people like being trusted to do a great job. By giving responsibility away you will build the resource in others to share with their people too. Sustainability is all about how everyone behaves – business as a unit.
  9. Test
    And you will have opportunities to see how it works for your people. See what happens when you don’t interfere. Coach those challenges your people face, rather than fixing problems – even when you know the answers. Make this a habit.
  10. Use ‘New’ Time Constructively
    Over a period of time, this will give you time and space to do other things. Your people will be doing the running of your business and you can plan, create and do those development things that you never thought possible for the future evolution of your business.

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • Take an hour to get really clear on the ideal, day-to-day delivery of the people in your business. However unlikely it may seem, get the very best picture of what it ‘could’ be like.
  • Talk to your people from now on about the aspiration of a ‘perfect’ business day.
  • Start saying ‘no’ to those things which get in the way – go on, do it at least three times a day from now on!
  • Immediately look for things you can delegate. Start right away and do it. Help people get context and understand precisely what you will be expecting of them. make it easy for them to succeed and build their confidence.
  • Stop fixing things! Challenge your people for their solutions which will work and practice your coaching skills. Ask things like:-
    • ‘What do you think?’
    • ‘How will that work?
    • ‘Tell me more about this’
    • ‘What might go wrong?’
    • ‘What resources will you need?’

    This all helps to stimulate their thinking process and will really help them grow.

Sustainability is a real value to you and your people. It is an asset to your business today and serves to create a long-term proposition which will be bursting with possibilities.

The best books to serve us here are some of the old favourites; books that build teams like crazy and do it in a way which values everyone as contributor :-

“Zapp!! – The Lightening of Empowerment” – Byham & Cox
“Fish!” – Harry Paul, John Christensen, Stephen C. Lundin
“Gung Ho! Turn on the People in Any Organization” – Ken Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles