5 Ways to a Strong Sustainability & Purpose Culture

These 5 Tips to create a Strong Sustainability and Purpose Culture from Sandja Brügmann, CEO The Passion Institute, was originally published alongside an interview in SustainReport, the full article (in Danish) is accessible here: 5 råd til lederen, der vil skabe en stærk sustainability kultur.


1. Move from being Change-ready to Change-driven 

In order to solve the sustainability challenges we are faced with, as a leader you need to be able to bring other people to life, to flourish, such that they experience and are able to access their innate passion, innovation and creativity. This require leadership development on the personal development plane to know what motivates and drive others, beneath the obvious and spoken. This is why you need to see leadership development as personal transformation and as an on-going commitment to a process, where you never reach the end goal, but experience continuous successes of growth and learning towards the end goal.

2. Become conscious of your own values and purpose  

It requires self-awareness to become conscious of one’s own values and deeper purpose – and to live them. Only when an underlying purpose is identified, are you able to create a strong sustainability culture organizationally and leadership-wise.

Everything is created twice, as leadership expert Stephen Covey has said. First we create a vision of the world, we would like to create and live in. Then we take action to realize this vision. And the second part is a much grander challenge. To live our values and purpose require self-management, dedication to personal growth and a strong will. In order to succeed with this process, it is important not to look for the holes in the cheese, as we shoot down good ideas and intentions, before there is provided ample room to execute and implement. Creating a purpose and sustainability culture is a lengthy developmental process for both the employees and the management team.

3. Empower and uplift each other

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Ensure processes are in place within the organizational structure and the top leadership team, such that power is openly questioned and a natural part of the organizational culture. Create a culture and structure, where everyone supports and empowers each other, and where transparency and open communication is valued and expected such that unsustainable behavior is called out and corrected. In this manner the supportive and well-aligned actions will gradually increase.  To focus on continuous personal development in the direction of a stronger autonomous, responsible, sustainable and purpose culture, where people grow, is called a DDO, Deliberately Developmental Organization.

4. Sustainability is contingent on psychological development processes 

The challenges of our time are global in nature, complex and interdependent. Thus we cannot solve any of the grand challenges alone. We need to develop leaders, who are ecoliterate systems thinkers and sensers, who can perceive and understand the interrelatedness of these issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, economic polarity, social inequality, social illness (stress, depression, anxiety), health issues (diabetes, cancer etc) and so forth.

The future leader needs to understand the importance of mindset change from being short term profit-only focused to becoming longterm profit and purpose-focused. Leaders need to move from hierarchical structures towards a broader redistribution of influence and power within the organizations, and rather than leading with control, learn to lead with autonomy, as per Dr. Robert Keagan, researcher at Harvard University.

5. A strong sustainability culture requires transparency and honesty

Get a nuanced and honest picture of where your organization, and your own leadership, create inadequate results or behaviors, which sabotage or slow development and intended performance. It requires deep self-awareness and will to work on and with personal leadership development. With this starting point you can create honesty and transparency internally in the organization, which are prerequisites to work with sustainability risks in every corner of the business – from the supply chain to negative branding.


Bonustip: Meditation and mental training help to move beyond automatic reactions to proaction, and to improve self-understanding. Science shows that meditation and mindfulness increase mental strength and overall life contentment. It also improves our productivity and the quality of our decisions.




Are you ready to further develop your sustainability and purpose culture? Call or email us for a next-step options conversation at +45 42449800 or email at Sandja@ThePassionInstitute.com

Sustainable Change-Maker leadership training open for enrollment. Course starts October 1, 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark. You can learn more here.







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