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Executive search trends: sustainable leadership

Sustainable mindset: an essential condition to generate positive impact

According to the UN, the selection and succession of executives play a fundamental role in generating favorable results for business, society and the environment

 

We are living the peak of one of the most complex paradoxes of humanity: that of progress. While science and technology reach extraordinary levels of evolution, the process of social and environmental degradation has never been so accelerated. In Brazil, more than 11 million people have lost income and fallen into poverty, a record number in recent years according to the Institute for Mobility and Social Development (IMDS: Instituto Mobilidade e Desenvolvimento Social). Regarding biodiversity, the extinction of species of flora and fauna is, on average, 50% faster compared to 2014.

Considering that more than half of the world’s GDP (US$ 44 trillion) is dependent on nature (raw materials, climate regulation, and genetic diversity) and that the population has never been more willing to consume from socially responsible companies, having a corporate culture focused on regeneration is no longer an intention but rather a practice in the world’s leading companies. In these companies, the first step is to look for professionals with an ESG (environmental, social and governance) mindset who are able to make a new social and environmental pact. This is how sustainable leadership is found.

Social and environmental responsibility starts with the leadership

Adriana Prates – CEO of Dasein and AESC Advisor on Diversity and Inclusion

According to Dasein’s CEO and AESC Diversity and Inclusion advisor, Adriana Prates, it is fundamental that all levels of a company’s leadership have their values and objectives aligned, aiming for sustainable social and environmental measures. “We are going through a time when reconstruction is necessary. We all need to think and act in order to contribute to the longevity of the world and, especially, the companies, for having a great power of impact and cultural influence”, she highlights.

According to her, the leaders are a key part of this process: they must set an example and help in the understanding that sustainability needs to be rooted in the activities, culture, and in all the employees of an organization, because only in this way is it possible for the business to be viable and prosperous.

The CEO points out that, through conscious leadership, organizations can significantly reduce the harmful effects on the environment by making changes in work models and methods. “That way the gains will be greater and greater, and the chance that we will be able to more than just nullify the impact, but actually recover some percentage of the damage done in recent years, will be higher.”

The difference of setting a good example

One of the most admired sustainable leaders by teams and the market – not only in relation to professional results, but also as a person – Paulo Misk, CEO of Largo Inc and president of Largo Brasil, a Canadian mining company with operations in the state of Bahia, summarizes the necessary relationship between the social and environmental commitment of companies and their leaders.

Paulo Misk – CEO of Largo Inc and president of Largo Brazil

“Understanding that the company is made by people and valuing them is the most important competence of a CEO”, highlights Misk. According to him, Largo has an incredible history of growth and overcoming, and his eight-year trajectory in the organization mirrors every challenge faced, every victory, and the contribution of all those who have passed and those who remain.

“The company went through a difficult phase in late 2015 and early 2016, when it was still in the ‘ramp-up’ phase and vanadium prices had a sharp drop. We almost went bankrupt. It was by believing in our team, in the potential of our business, and in our purpose that we were able to achieve operational fundamentals (production, cost, quality) that are now benchmarks on the worldwide vanadium industry. This team of ours is a winner and I am grateful to each one.”

“Humanized management is nothing more than being aware of our role in society, in caring for people, in preserving the environment. Creating opportunities, giving people a dignified life, and seeing the wealth generated benefiting an entire community is the certainty that the effort of an entire team was worthwhile. Some people call this a legacy. For me it is just a feeling of gratitude.”

Paulo Misk underlines that Largo builds a relationship of trust and respect with the communities and territories where they operate on a daily basis. “Our support for social and environmental responsibility projects in communities, for example, beyond any obligations, is given by the understanding that the role of companies is to contribute and enable a better life for people, more quality of life.”

For Adriana Prates, leading by example is a way to build better organizations for society. “The human capacity to learn and imitate behaviors is greater than we imagine. A leader directly influences his employees by acting in a healthy and honorable way.”

Increasingly, organizations that aim for the well-being of their most precious asset, people, are being valued and considered as necessary. “When employees feel well, motivated, valued, and are in awe of the leadership style, they are able to produce and generate incomparably higher returns. The companies of the future work in a harmonious and effective way, their employees feel their value. They have leaders in whom they can mirror and propagate good practices so that this cycle does not end and the contributions to the world are significant in a progressive way.”

At the forefront of sustainability

At Largo, ESG is not a novelty. According to its president, practices aimed at the environment, society and governance have always been part of the company’s culture. “We assume our environmental and social responsibility and work to minimize impacts, to create opportunities for our employees and for people in the surrounding communities, contributing to a better, greener world.”

Daniel Rezende – Dasein’s director

“We have established a work environment where people respect each other and we act by example. We believe in the enormous strength of team engagement around a common purpose, around values that they realize on a daily basis. For us at Largo, the ESG concepts are incorporated and recognized in all our activities. Our ore even contributes to a more sustainable world and Largo’s leaders understand the importance of balancing the financial value of our business without losing sight of sustainability and good governance practices. We constantly invest in improving processes and our governance.”

“In addition to making a positive impact through our operations, vanadium, when applied in steel alloys (90% of vanadium consumption in the world), reduces the environmental impact of the entire steel chain by up to 45%. Studies have indicated that vanadium is responsible for reducing China’s total carbon emissions by 1%.

Other good examples of Largo are the company’s two new businesses: the Titanium Pigment Project, which will produce 2/3 of the Brazilian consumption of white pigments used in paints, plastics and ceramics, and will be produced from vanadium ore. “Thus, there will be no additional impact at the mining stage. The environmental concepts were incorporated from the conception of the project and onwards into the pigment production stage. Circular economy in the vein! The other environmental business solution is the vanadium battery, which is the best solution to store large amounts of energy and enable the use of renewable energy all throughout the day. We are 100% committed to having a cleaner planet,” highlights Paulo Misk.

ESG is about humanizing leadership

For a long time, leaders were “taught” to leave their emotions outside the company. Today, on the contrary, admired leaders are those who, besides delivering commendable results, are great people, in the most human sense of the term. Understanding and dealing with one’s own emotions is a basic step towards welcoming and knowing how to deal with the teams’ emotions – which is a fundamental requirement within ESG.

Over the years, Dasein has supported leaders in this direction. According to Adriana Prates, history shows that for a long time showing emotions was considered a weakness. “Clearly this only resulted in frustrated people, companies suffering from the evil of miscommunication and unproductivity. Being vulnerable is a big challenge, especially in work environments, due to this old belief that is still present in many management models. However, it is very rewarding and effective when leaders manage to develop emotional intelligence, the ability to deal with their own emotions.”

At Dasein, we perform a complete mapping of competencies and professional leadership profiles. We encourage the client to have multiple criteria when recruiting or evaluating a professional. This implies embracing a larger and more diverse volume of people who are in tune with the new times. In this way, they will be leaders who form new leaders, generate successors, and naturally create a virtuous cycle of growth in the company.

Those who possess these skills can more easily get in touch with people and listen to them, since work is only one part of each of our lives. This leadership style is conducive to openness and the creation of trusting relationships. This results in happier employees who want to produce and contribute more, directly impacting the companies where they work.

ESG as a gateway to top talent

Fundamental to the longevity of businesses, it is already well known that ESG practices are among the main decision-making criteria for investors. But not only for them. It’s also one of the most important criteria among the best talents, highlights Dasein’s director, Daniel Rezende.

“Valuing employees is one of the internal practices linked to the social aspect of ESG that reflects on the company’s reputation and respectability. Valuing the workforce, encouraging inclusion and diversity, respecting laws and people’s rights are essential points.”

“Looking at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) listed by the UN as a set of goals aimed at achieving a more sustainable world to which companies must commit, we can highlight health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, and reduction of inequalities as being objectives directly linked to people management that must be accompanied with the definition of goals and indicators. Achieving these goals and maintaining good indicators, in addition to enhancing the company’s image, will attract a new generation of talent and increase its competitiveness in the market,” highlights Rezende.

The role of executive search in the search for sustainable leadership

The report “Leadership for the Decade of Action “, a reference in the practice of sustainable leadership, conducted among global companies that participate in the UN Global Compact, indicated that four processes are fundamental to generate the necessary transformations aimed at sustainability in companies. They are: selection, succession, incentives, and development.

For Adriana Prates, top management and CEOs especially must be committed to these processes. They should be responsible in their business strategies for sustainable measures in hiring leaders so that all processes in the companies are guided by people who follow the corporate sustainability values, with minimal use of natural resources and promoting a healthy working environment for employees.

Knowing, implementing and monitoring the principles linked to ESG begins by capturing and training the leadership and professionals, emphasizes Dasein’s director, Daniel Rezende. According to him, Dasein’s support in the ESG agenda for customers is given by means of the executive search, assessment and leadership development services.

“In addition to our commitment to best practices and sustainability standards in the executive recruiting industry, set globally by AESC (Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants), we are committed to diversity by joining the Diversity Leadership Council for Latin America.”

“Founded by the entity, the council aims to outline joint actions that favor the commitment of leaders and companies with diversity. Thus we are not only aware of its importance, but we know the urgency of the leaders to put into practice affirmative action and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals linked to the companies’ ESG agenda.”

According to Largo’s president, Paulo Misk, most professionals dedicate a good part of their time to their work and there is nothing better and fairer than doing what they like and being recognized for it. “To have room to grow, to learn, to share, and to contribute. This is what makes companies healthy environments. Dasein helped Largo a lot in hiring key people and also a lot in my management development training through a mentoring process. The knowledge of the work market, the accurate assessment service, and the proper identification of profiles are valuable characteristics that I recognize in Dasein’s work.”

 

Selection, succession, incentives and development

Learn how Dasein undertakes each of the processes cited by the UN Global Compact

Selection

Executive recruitment is the path that companies take to find the ideal person who will meet the needs of the work environments and employees. It is a set of coordinated actions among companies, markets and candidates. A deep understanding of the business, the context, and the organizational culture is of fundamental importance in order to plan for success.

According to Adriana Prates, many companies still haven’t paid attention to the fact that the entry of new professionals into the company is the focal point from which all the other issues will arise from this situation. It is necessary to work with partners who have an orientation towards this universality of issues, to combine all the interrelated aspects in order to sustain recruitment that will always put the company on the path of growth.

“The UN survey shows that although most CEOs believe in the importance of sustainability, only 48% act around it. In other words, it is very important that the hiring of leaders is focused on people who not only have a sustainable mindset, but also have the necessary skills that allow them to create projects and apply them in the corporate environment. We are aware of this and provide our clients with the search for a professional profile that also has a sustainable mentality, that appreciates health and safety measures, and that actively implements them.

“Our market research is conducted with the objective of finding leaders who are differentiated and who understand that the business can only act in conjunction with sustainability and who encompass all the systems that are part of the organization, including partners who work indirectly. Furthermore, we know that innovation, decision-making, and a sense of urgency, as well as other pillars are indispensable when hiring an executive.”

Succession

This is a highly critical discipline in organizations. Despite being indispensable, not all companies take care of the Career & Succession topic in their routine. And many companies do not know how to answer the following question: how will the most critical positions in your organization be filled with the departure or promotion of a professional to the next strategic level?

Many companies resort to immediatism, Prates points out. They substitute the professional without the proper criteria. They may promote in a hasty way or even resort to the market when they might have these talents in the company itself that could supply and fill more complex positions.

Dasein acts together with organizations in career and succession projects with the purpose of knowing, identifying and presenting customers with a complete program containing people’s short, medium and long-term potential capacity, both individually and collectively. The objective is to support leaders in making the right decisions, promoting those who are prepared and providing development so that the team continues in constant evolution.

Incentives

Based on research and qualitative studies, Dasein stimulates the awareness necessary for CEOs to include the best practices for valuing professionals in their strategic people management guidelines, by means of mentoring. Work is also conducted for those who have not yet awakened to the sustainability agenda.

The best global initiatives in this scenario are presented with the intention of promoting specific training and the definition of performance targets that include sustainability as an equally relevant theme in the annual target plan. The professionals who achieve these results will be rewarded with awards and bonus programs, generating a direct repercussion on their annual pay.

Development

We know that social and environmental sustainability must pervade the organizational culture, but many companies treat the subject in an isolated manner, creating a specific area to address the issues, or resorting to marketing strategies. The challenges that affect the planet today require an unprecedented urgency. It is a type of work that needs to be included in the agenda and corporate practices in a definitive way.

Sustainability must be disseminated in the company as a whole, in its various areas, providing professionals with more specific knowledge about the issue so that everyone can coordinate themselves to meet the established goals.

The leaders will need to be ready to keep their teams engaged in translating into practice the changes in habits, behavior, and production processes that are less harmful to the environment and society.

Dasein performs work that contributes to help professionals on the front line to know how to deal with these times of uncertainty and great complexity, offering more adequate responses to changes in the management and business conduct model that we had previously experienced.

“We will need to learn a lot, review all business processes. Even discuss the discontinuation of product lines that no longer make sense for the new economy. The big question is that this step needs to be taken, in order for the advances to occur, that there is continuity, since the issues related to sustainability will never be exhausted. The most relevant thing at this point is the establishment of a new consciousness. Of a spirit in which there is an understanding that the collective gain depends directly on each individual attitude.

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