The Crossroads of Business Sustainability and Social Intelligence


With a multitude of paths to career satisfaction, evidence indicates that “finding meaning in the workplace” may be the single most important factor to long term satisfaction in the workplace. In fact, research shows that growing work frustrations are directly related to immediate supervision and a lack of recognition. So how can today’s leaders increase the engagement of their employees? What new skills will define tomorrow’s business sustainability innovators?

Reviewing the Harvard Business Review post, The Must-Have Leadership Skill, we explore the growing emphasis on ‘social intelligence’ as a required business skill. As the article describes:

“Technical skills and self-mastery alone allow you to be an outstanding individual contributor. But to lead, you need an additional interpersonal skill set…leadership is the art of accomplishing goals through other people.”

While creating ‘meaningful work’ is both the responsibility of the employer as well as the employee, business leaders can greatly accelerate the process by recognizing and rewarding the pursuit of these business sustainability efforts. Reflecting back on the 2009 article, Jumping into the green jobs market, the recovering market has created a new generation of workers, with a new set of expectations.

• Employees Want to Make a Difference: 80% of “young professionals” are interested in a career that makes a positive impact on the environment.

• Employees Seek Energy-Conscious Employers: 94% of Americans prefer to work in a building that is designed to be energy efficient and ecologically sound.

• Employees Prefer Employers that offer Telecommuting: the necessity to physically change locations in order to accomplish a task has recently been challenged by employee value for energy conservation, environment impacts, family values, and other issues.

• Employees Want Employers to Walk the Talk: In Portland, Oregon, your company isn’t really green unless you’ve got a bike cage in the parking structure, a compost bin in the lunchroom, fume-free paint on the walls, and have recycled glass on the lobby front desk.

• Employees Gravitate towards a Common Sustainable Goals: Organizations that are creating business sustainability through an elevated sense of teamwork and establishing an emotional tie between the employee and the organization direction are attracting top talent.

Having the right people in place has always critical to business success; however, it has become increasingly important to have a new set of skills to respond to evolving market conditions and business sustainability needs. The ability to plan and take action to address resource demands falls heavily on both executive and frontline leadership. Our sustainability consulting works with businesses to understand the value in having an evolved ‘social intelligence’ at every level of an organization.

Article by Julie Urlaub, Founder and Managing Partner at Taiga Company; appearing courtesy 3BL Media.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

1 Comment

  1. This is a great article. At one point I was disappointed in my job, I felt like I wasn’t making a difference in the world, and then I realized I could. I found that I could apply my passion for conservation directly towards the industry in which I worked, and since then I have had a much more positive attitude towards my job. We don’t always have to make monumental change, we just need to know that we are having a positive influence on society.