How effective leaders bridge ‘say/do’ gaps for sustainability: Russell Reynolds Associates’ Clarke Murphy

Sustainable LeadershipEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceSustainability
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九月 21, 2021
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Sustainable LeadershipEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceSustainability
Executive Summary
Clarke Murphy joined WEF's Meet the Leader podcast to discuss sustainable leadership.

Excerpt from the article and podcast originally published by the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum's Meet the Leader Podcast with Linda Lacina featured Clarke Murphy as a guest where he discussed our recent global report findings on sustainable leadership and next generation leaders.


Protecting people and the planet is the biggest challenge of our lifetime - and one that will require a new type of leadership. CEO Clarke Murphy understands this more than most. His global leadership advisory and executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates has just released a first-of-its-kind report, Divides and Dividends, digging into what leaders need to meet sustainability goals now and in the decades to come.

The survey polled more than 9,500 people in 11 countries - spanning both developed and emerging economies. It also spanned a range of insights, polling top C-level leaders, execs and staffers to identify key gaps between promise and action, and learn what's working and not in meeting critical sustainability goals. 

The Meet The Leader podcast talked to Murphy about the survey ahead of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit this week. Read below for some of the top findings that surprised him and the lessons learned that any leader can put into practice.

Think for the long term

 Sustainable leaders possess many of the traits any effective leader does: they're capable of taking on great complexity, they listen to a range of stakeholders and they are able to innovate and think differently. 

But critical for sustainability leadership is the ability to set audacious goals and rigorously drive ahead despite economic cycles and shareholder pressure. "It takes the commitment through the bull market and the bear market and the bull market and the bear market."

The 'Say/Do' divide 

According to the survey, 45% of C-suite executives say their organisation's sustainability strategy is about brand management and being viewed as socially responsible. Far fewer, notes Murphy, around 20%, say they're creating real value. While many leaders around the world are making real change happen, this finding still "spooked" Murphy. Some leaders, he said, are "talking the talk and not walking the walk."

To read the full article and listen to the podcast, click here.