Leadership, Sustainability & Visibility
I’m very proud to be working on a project with the world leaders on corporate sustainability, Interface. The results of this work will be made public next year, but it is very clear from my many interactions with Interface employees and stakeholders that Ray Anderson, the founder of the company and its Mission Zero sustainability programme, is still held in highest regard some four years after his death.
I follow a couple of twitter feeds who supply inspiring business and management quotes (I like a good quote, even if many are misattributed) and one caught my eye this morning:
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves ~ Lao Tzu
Now I know I’m walking on thin ice criticising the (purported) author of the Tao Te Ching, but is this always the case?
On one level I understand the need to get individuals to claim ownership of sustainability issues, solve them and take credit for the results. But ‘barely know he exists’? We look to our leaders to show us the direction of travel, for permission to act and for permission to fail. Otherwise every organisation could run itself.
I certainly don’t think Interface could have gone through the radical transformation it has over the last two decades without Ray Anderson nailing his colours to the mast. And where Interface has led, competitors and other industries have followed. Visible leadership matters in sustainability.