Learming Hub
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Of the 100 largest economies in the world by GDP, 69 are companies. As such, the business world has a massive influence on turning the tide in terms of our global goals on sustainability. This week, to contextualise the challenges ahead and analyse where leaders fit into this ‘big picture’ issue, we are joined by an authority in this space, Marga Hoek.

Why is sustainability not necessarily just a top-down initiative in businesses? What part does trust play in planting the seeds for a sustainable future? How can CEOs communicate and execute on ambitious sustainability-led visions?

Marga is a member of the prestigious Thinkers50 and an expert on sustainable business and capital. She recently held a Masterclass for IMI on A New Vision for Sustainability.

This conversation was recorded on November 24th, 2021.
Subscribe: Spotify, iTunesTuneInSoundcloudAcastStitcher – or search ‘IMI Talking Leadership’ in your podcast provider of choice.
[post_title] => Episode 50 | A New Vision for Sustainability with Marga Hoek [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => episode-50-a-new-vision-for-sustainability-with-marga-hoek [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-12-09 14:59:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-12-09 14:59:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=56939 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 60107 [post_author] => 174 [post_date] => 2023-01-24 11:41:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-01-24 11:41:59 [post_content] => We’ve all heard the saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Yet a recent Gallup study shows that many people are, in fact, not loving their work and are miserable in their jobs, with only 21% of employees engaged at work and 33% thriving in their overall well-being globally. Individually and as a society, we seem to have lost our hope for the future. People want to succeed, but the path to achievement is murky. No one wakes up aiming to be average, but all the messages we receive, consciously and unconsciously, appear to push us to that undistinguishable level. For nearly a decade, I’ve interviewed scores of high achievers, from astronauts to Olympic gold medalists to Nobel Prize winners, for my book The Success Factor. What was revealing is that irrespective of their industry, all high achievers had four things in common, and any of us can customize them to our own lifestyle, not by copying their habits but by emulating their mindsets. 1) Tap into your intrinsic motivation. Why did you enter your chosen profession? Getting to the “why” behind your career choice is critical, as it will help you get in touch with your deepest motivations, block out distractions, and potentially adjust (or reengage) with your current path. For instance, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is motivated by helping others. When I asked how he selects which problems to focus on, he told me that he picks problems that he feels are important, not just interesting. This sentiment was repeated by many of the people I spoke with — they focused on doing work that would make an impact beyond themselves. For the highest achievers, it’s not about the medals, rewards, bonuses, or promotions. What you can do: To tap into your intrinsic motivation, ask yourself: What fuels my curiosity? Is it aligned with what fuels my work? If you’re focused only on external factors (like rewards), you’re likely on the path to burnout. I recommend creating a passion audit, which will help you differentiate between what you are good at versus what you are not, and what you enjoy doing versus where you procrastinate. Look for themes and see how you can embed some of your more passionate tasks into your career. 2) Get comfortable with failure. Dr. Peggy Whitson is a biochemist who worked at NASA. She always dreamed of becoming an astronaut but was met with repeated hurdles. For a full decade, she applied to be an astronaut but was repeatedly rejected. She didn’t quit after the first, second, or even third rejection. Every time she faced a hurdle, she asked herself, “What strategy have I not thought of yet?” She leveraged what she learned working at NASA to be more competitive as an astronaut applicant, and even went on to become the first female commander of the international space station, and ultimately became NASA’s chief astronaut. Some people fear failing, while others fear succeeding. High achievers fear “not trying” more than they fear failing. For them, it’s not a question of if they can overcome a challenge; the focus is always on how they can. They consider alternative strategies and work fiercely to control what they can control, and ignore distractions. What you can do: To achieve a similar focus, consider this two-step approach. Learn to leverage your cognitive hours, those when you are most able to concentrate, and spend that time on your deep focus work, not passive tasks such as responding to emails or scheduling Zoom meetings, which you can do when you are more sluggish. Second, consider productivity sprints using the time management Pomodoro method, which has you working and taking scheduled breaks on a predictable cycle. If the work you’re engaged in during this time isn’t bringing you closer to your goal, or giving you the results you want, don’t stop trying or lose focus. Instead, us the time to brainstorm a different approach. 3) Reinforce your foundation. The week the Nobel Prizes are announced, social media is in a frenzy showing the newly minted award winners going about their usual routine of teaching or writing grants in between press interviews. Despite all of their accolades, high achievers never rest on their laurels. Even if they’ve done a task or routine countless times, they still work on the basic skills foundational to their current — and future — success. It’s why NBA champion Kobe Bryant was famous for practicing the same warm-up routines you’d see in any junior high school gym. In the military, people are told to “train hard, fight easy.” It’s also the strategy marathon runners use when they train in high altitudes so that running the race in normal conditions feels easier. What you can do: Consider the “must-have” skills of your profession and imagine how you can brush up on them or learn to build on them. Instead of letting them get rusty, think about what it would take for you to get to the point where they are so effortless that you can rely on muscle memory to lead you under stress. Do you need more practice? Do you need to practice under challenging conditions? Both strategies will sharpen your abilities. 4) Become a lifelong learner. The high achievers I spoke with are continuously open to learning, although it is rarely in the classroom. Discussions with mentors, colleagues, peers, and mentees, coupled with reading, observing others, watching videos, and listening to podcasts, all inform their deep reservoir of knowledge. Christopher Wadell, for instance, grew up as an able-bodied skier until an accident one day left him without use of his lower body. He wanted to return to the slopes and first learned this was possible years earlier when he watched a cancer survivor with one leg on a monoski. That memory was embedded in his mind, and it pushed him to learn to ski in this new way. Today, Christopher Wadell is a decorated Paralympian. He’s won 13 medals, five of them gold. What you can do: To increase your knowledge base, which can lead to making connections others don’t yet see, immerse yourself with interesting people and open your mind up to new ideas. Surround yourself with a team of mentors who can offer you challenges and scaffolding to try new things. Consume new ideas in a platform of your choosing — reading books and articles, watching webinars, taking LinkedIn Learning courses, or listening to engaging conversations and interviews.   People want to succeed, but there is a lack of understanding and discussion on how to achieve more, and more importantly, be motivated to do it. By learning the lessons from some of the most accomplished people of our generation, we can make average our beginning, not our end goal.   -- IMI Members can sign up to attend our in-person event, The Success Factor: Developing the Mindset and Skill set for Peak Performance with Ruth Gotian,  taking place on 22nd February in Dublin and 23rd February in Cork. Non-Members can purchase tickets here for Dublin and Cork. Places are limited. [post_title] => 4 Things High Achievers Do Differently: Dr Ruth Gotian [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 4-things-high-achievers-do-differently-dr-ruth-gotian [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-02-27 15:51:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-02-27 15:51:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=60107 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Farah Barry

Farah Barry

2nd Mar 2023

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Event Insights: Leading in Sustainability with Mark Mellett

IMI was thrilled to welcome retired Vice Admiral Mark Mellett to our recent membership webinar, to deliver an insightful session on leadership in sustainability. Mark discussed 10 principles of leadership, and how these should play into the execution of your sustainability strategy, both as a leader and as an organisation.

Mark started out by talking about his childhood in the west of Ireland. Growing up in Mayo, he was always outdoors – whether it be walking, hiking, or fishing. On his adventures, he noticed how the international community was so fascinated by what we took for granted here in Ireland – the bogs, the lichen, catching trout in the river, and harvesting hazelnuts and blueberries from the forests. This is what sparked his lifelong love for nature, and commitment to sustainability.

Mark joined the Defence Forces in 1976, and gained a plethora of experience and knowledge, much of which can be applied to the current challenges organisations are facing with regards to sustainability.

Mark’s first principle is around collaboration. We should all aim to be collaborators rather than islands. At a macro level, that means that different countries will need to work together to achieve sustainability goals, but at an organisational level it’s about instilling a culture of collaboration, rather than having competing silos. The critical piece is understanding that the answers to our problems sit outside our immediate boundaries.

Next is innovation. When Mark was a child, IBM had created a computer that could hold 1MB of data. We now have access to an extraordinary level of technology, like AI, Virtual Reality and the Internet of Things. We have moved to a point where we have 180ZB of data – data drives information which underpins the creation of knowledge. In the context of sustainability, we will be able to harness technological solutions to meet goals.

The concept of diversity and inclusion is ever present. Ensuring that the organisation isn’t a monoculture is critical, and so is providing opportunities for people of different genders, races, ages and sexual orientation to thrive within an organisation.

Following on from diversity and inclusion comes gender equality. This doesn’t come without its challenges, and while Mark got to see these challenges first hand in the military, all organisations face the same thing. It’s going to take 130 years or more to have gender equality across the world. Ireland is currently in the middle, with about an 80% gender balance, but we still have a distance to go. In the international domain you can see the impact of not having equality – when you look at the gender gap and the global peace index: where gender gap is great, violence is greatest.

While it might not sound intuitive from a leadership perspective, the next principle is seizing the day. Opportunities come to pass, not to pause, and the gap to address climate change is closing rapidly. There needs to be a certain amount of risk-tolerance when it comes to seizing opportunities like this, but in order to make sure we don’t miss out, it needs to be done.

The sixth principle is a simple one – ego. To be empowered to meet the sustainability challenge head on, we as leaders need to understand the importance of being self-aware, and the value of wisdom.

It’s nothing new, but resilience is still a critical piece, whether you have a big or a small team. The health and wellbeing of our teams is of utmost importance, and we need to ensure that we’re looking after ourselves and those around us. We live in a period of inverted power, and an extraordinary amount of pressure is put on us due to social media. We need to normalise conversations about mental health, and confiding in others when you are having challenges.

Values and culture are really two sides of the same coin, and they’re the glue that holds organisations together. It’s important to put in place values that organisations can actually action and live. In older organisations especially, this is a big challenge and it’s something to be approached with great care, as it can go wrong. You need to be sensitive when you bring changes to culture – there could be vested interests and resistance to change. The solution is working in a considered manner so that you ensure the changes are lasting.

Principle number nine is purpose. We all need to have a shared purpose about sustainability, which must inform what we do personally and within our organisation, team, community. We need to make sustainability a norm rather than something we aspire to.

The final principle is the concept of leadership itself. A leader is the conductor of an orchestra. There are many different styles of leadership, and one of these won’t be applicable in all situations. You’ll need to work out which fits with each situation related to your sustainability agenda. The objective is the same for everyone, we need to lead the charge to drive from unsustainable to sustainable, and our purpose as leaders is to make that change.

The IMI Transformational Leadership in Sustainability programme is now enrolling for the very first intake.

IMI Members get access to a range of in-person and virtual events. To find out more about membership please visit this page.