Stefan Groschl: “Responsible leadership starts with a self-understanding of one’s personal values”
One of the seminars included in EADA’s International Week 2018 is ‘Responsible leadership and sustainable business practices’. This is conducted by Stefan Groschl, professor in the Department of Management at the ESSEC Business (Paris, France). In the following interview with him, we talk about his research on responsible leadership, diversity management and best organizational practices geared toward greater sustainability.
What are the main focus points of your research on responsible leadership, diversity management and international human resources management?
In terms of responsible leadership me and some colleagues have been exploring why some companies and company leaders engage in sustainable business practices and others don’t. We have extensively studied the cognitive development of company leaders such as Jochen Zeitz, former CEO of Puma. He developed a more inclusive understanding of sustainability and adopted proactive initiatives that went beyond business-as-usual. With regard to diversity management, I am currently exploring with some colleagues factors that enable women to make it into top management.
How do you define responsible leadership?
It is about an individual who is doing good and well at the same time. In fact, we talk about any decision maker who considers the concerns of all stakeholders, and the socio-economic and environmental aspects affected by her decisions.
What are the main keys to become responsible leaders?
Aside from the traditional leadership skills and competencies, responsible leaders have a greater sense of self-reflection and the ability to make sense of the complexities and paradoxes they increasingly face when making decisions.
What is the role of the key decision makers and business leaders in this transformative process towards organizational sustainability and responsibility?
Business leaders play a critical role in any transformative process as they shape the vision of the business. In the EADA’s seminar, I say master participants that they all should know that organizational change can start at all organizational levels. In this sense, students can play an equally important role in creating and shaping organizational transformation and change toward greater sustainable business practices and processes. The course is for students to understand why continuing to do business as usual is unsustainable. They are learning how to change the individual and organizational mindset toward engaging in greater responsible and sustainable actions that address today’s complex and pressing socio-economic and environmental challenges.
Could you give me any good example of sustainable business practices and processes and responsible leaders?
UK-based company bio-bean has recently partnered with Shell and UK-based argent energy to transform used coffee beans into fuel to help run public buses in London. Another example: Germany based SAP has created a differently abled program called Autism at Work. Launched in 2013, the program aims to employ 650 colleagues on the autism spectrum by 2020. Regarding individuals who have been known for their engagement in sustainable business practices and business models I would highlight Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia, Jochen Zeitz formerly Puma, Paul Polman from Unilever, and Emmanuel Faber from Danone.
Why EADA’s participants might explore individual and organizational responsibilities?
Leading organizational change toward greater sustainable business practices starts at an individual level with a self-reflection and a better self-understanding of one’s personal values and beliefs that shape and influence the actions and decisions at an organizational level.