There is sustainable construction and sustainable construction leadership – what does it look like if we join the toolset and the mindset?
Most agree that the toolset of ‘construction sustainability’ has no single definition for any one region, sector, or product. That said, the components generally include the following three areas: environmentally friendly materials, energy efficiency, and effective management of waste from demolition and construction.
Typically, company managers submit bids and conduct buildouts with environmentally friendly standards related to these three well-known areas, and they do their best to ensure that their value propositions include both current and future measures of sustainability.
While these practices may now be considered standard, most companies would assign compliance responsibilities for sustainable industry standards to the operational and management levels rather than to senior leadership. So, what about leadership? What is their role in sustainability? Leaders contend that they must keep their eyes on the prize to keep their companies afloat. But what if standards for sustainable materials and practice could be lifted into the practice of leadership?
Let’s take a quick look at sustainable leadership mindsets:
Appreciate the long-term environment, not just the project.
Sustainable leaders understand the importance and ‘fit’ of their projects into current and future ecosystems. They think forward through internal challenge teams, professional networks as well as linkages with researchers from the best scientific and technological labs. Repeat customers come from comprehensive forward-thinking.
Efficiency is achieved through the appreciation of the social fabric.
A cost-benefit analysis of the social, political, and economic impacts of any project will help leaders with the bid and the build, and it will position them well for additional projects. This can be accomplished through effective collaboration with stakeholders, e.g., government, manufacturers, building industry practitioners, the public at different levels, as well as stockholders.
Sustainable leaders overcome complex situations and work across boundaries, finding ways to capture the value and decrease risk through the creation of teams empowered to deliver effective outcomes to the triple bottom line, aka, people, planet, and profit.
Sustainable construction leadership can be seen as a stewardship aimed to ensure strategic and operational design and implementation to protect the shared environment, current and future. There is no ‘once and done’ in sustainability, either the too set or the mindset. Construction companies would be wise to consider that the sustainability and credibility of their leadership mindset are closely linked to the toolset of their sustainable best practices. Both are needed to achieve long-term value.
Nancy J. Overholt
CEO, Overholt International Training & Consultancy
Nancy J. Overholt is an expert in professional development and training. She has conducted training for the government, corporate, and private sectors over the past 30 years in the US and globally. Clients have included ministerial-level executives from the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, Nigeria, and Chile. Her corporate sector training includes clients such as Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc, LG, and Aramco. In 2019, Ms. Overholt opened Overholt International Training & Consultancy. In the years 2019 and before, she held several leadership positions at the Institute of International Education (IIE).