Once sustainability champions take on the challenge of engaging others in environmental or social initiatives, they inevitably become viewed as “experts.” That’s the blessing and curse of any leader. It’s a tough label to live up to as you are faced with questions and challenges to your proposals. Fortunately, there are excellent online news services that help sustainability champions stay current and credible.
As outlined in The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook, people expect sustainability champions to be trustworthy and to know what they are talking about—to be credible in three ways.
- Credible as a leader of change
Leaders need to understand steps and leadership practices throughout a transformational process. Fortunately, the literature on leadership and change is packed with guidance on how to successfully lead a culture change. My summarization of that guidance is in The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook.
- Credible as a business person
Colleagues and executives need to trust that you won’t suggest the company adopt sustainability strategies unless they are good for the bottom line and / or enhance stock value. Otherwise, people will be twitchy that your sustainability agenda is not aligned with—and is perhaps even a threat to—the company’s success; in which case you’ll soon find yourself marginalized. The Sustainability Advantage provides guidance on how to compellingly quantify the business case for sustainability strategies and The Next Sustainability Wave explains how to effectively communicate / sell that business case.
- Credible as a sustainability expert
When people see you as a knowledgeable center of expertise on sustainability, they will trust your judgment and competence to lead the sustainability transformation.This is a challenge, because things change quickly.
When I was selling computers for IBM, it was awkward when a customer referred to a news item they had read in a trade magazine about IBM or one of our competitors and I had no idea what they were talking about. To protect myself and others from this embarrassment, I co-launched a daily news-clip service of articles that savvy IBM salespeople could use as their cheat sheet of hot stories, about which a customers might ask. It proved to be a valuable, daily periscope over the IT landscape, and it soon had subscribers from around the world.
Similarly, sustainability champions like you and I need to stay on top of the changing, daily news in the sustainability world. Fortunately, help is at hand. Here are 12 excellent news-clip services that I use to stay current and credible on sustainability. I sift out the good stuff and capture some of the best information on slides that I add to my Master Slide Set.
- Globe-Net: news-clip service
- CSRwire: weekly alerts about news, events, and press releases
- World Environmental News: from Planet Ark—by Reuters”
- WBCSD: business and news clips e.g. energy & climate, sustainable livelihoods, water, and CSR
- Sustainable Business News: news clip choices
- Jean Francois Barsoum: occasionally offers amazing collections of news stories on a variety of sustainability topics
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to his list(s)
- GreenBiz: newsletter featuring stories about the environment and business
- Environmental Leader: good filter of the wheat from the chaff
- The CSR Feed: 3BL Media’s newsletter with links to CSR stories
- Greener Computing News: news on IT-related sustainability initiatives
- Greener Building News: news on building industry sustainability initiatives
- Sustainability Forum: news and opinions in bite-sized chunks
LinkedIn groups also provide ongoing insights for topics of interest to sustainability professionals, as do the following blogs:
- Tyler Hamilton’s “Clean Break” blog: clean tech news
- World Changing’s blog: upbeat reports of progress on societal sustainability
- Paul Gilding’s “Cockatoo Chronicles” blog: description?
- Joel Makower’s “Two Steps Forward” blog: provides excellent context
We must earn the right to lead the sustainability transformation. Leadership is about influence and relationships based on trust and credibility. Staying up-to-speed on sustainability-related happenings, stories, studies, reports, and progress helps us live-up to our image as credible sustainability experts.
On the other hand, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. Sometimes, I am introduced as a “Sustainability Guru”—a flattering but daunting title. I have become comfortable and well-versed with the business case for sustainability and with how to lead an organizational transformation to a culture aligned with sustainability principles. But, I also have a library of books on these and other sustainability topics which keeps me humble.
We sometimes need to cut ourselves a little slack and feel ok with not knowing absolutely everything a questioner might ask—even if it’s implied that we should. After all, there are very few people in any discipline or field, in all of our collective history, who knew all the answers. We could spend every waking hour on the Stay Current Treadmill, and still not be as informed as we would like to be. That’s life. Saying “I don’t know” and referring questioners to other potential sources is perfectly acceptable. This is not an excuse to slack-off, of course. Rather, it’s a reminder to do your best, and to cut yourself some slack when not in-the-know yet on a specific point.
News-clip services, blogs, and social media are resources that should be scanned for items of interest, not treated like mandatory homework. They are your resources, you are not theirs. Be strict about scanning them once and only noting the information that is relevant to your current interests. Then, delete them. If you don’t, you’ll end up with an electronic pile of “read when I get a few minutes” articles that will grow exponentially while silently nagging, annoying, and possibly haunting you. That’s no fun. Staying current shouldn’t feel like unwanted drudgery-work. Life’s too short to do that to yourself. And, it’s not personally sustainable.
So, stay reasonably and healthily current on sustainability-related news… with an equally strong commitment of not stressing yourself out about not knowing everything. Be balanced, and enjoy the lifelong learning journey. Most of us quickly find out that “expert” is a relative term; that you may already know more than most people in this area; and that staying current and credible soon become an enjoyable and intrinsically motivating part of your daily routine.
I’d love to get your feedback here on my blog. Please feel free to add your comments and questions. The Comment Link is below.
Until next time,