5 Tips to Drive Sustainability from Below

Jul 27, 2010   //   by Colin Manuel   //   Leadership, Marketing & Communication  //  No Comments

5 Tips to Drive Change from BelowYou’re on the ground floor. Almost every day, customers ask you about your company’s social and environmental impact. But you’re powerless to change things. Or are you?

Getting the Green Light to Drive Change

People often debate whether change is driven from the top down or the bottom up. Let’s just agree that it happens from both directions. However, the ideas and authority for structural change aren’t spread equally.

If you’re a ground-level employee with a great idea for social and environmental action, you need to tailor your approach to get managers to lead the charge.

5 Paths to Buy-in for Your Sustainability Idea

  1. Compare to Competitors – If there’s one thing CEOs fear, it’s falling behind their competitors. Are industry players launching or promoting special sustainability programs? Can your idea leapfrog these efforts in effectiveness?
  2. Consider Perspectives – The best leaders seek out an array of perspectives before making decisions. Offer a refreshing contrast to the “Yes Men” and shake up your leader’s thinking with a ground level’s perspective.
  3. Speak to a Legacy – We all want to be remembered for something. Remind executives that sustainability initiatives offer an opportunity to put their print on the company’s long-term path.
  4. Make it their Idea – Pose your idea as a question. “Is there any way we can …” Listen carefully and rephrase their response in a way that leads back to your original idea. “So what you’re saying is…”
  5. Take the Work, Give the Credit - Who wants more work for no pay? You do. Once you get the support of the CEO, your job is execution. Make your boss look good and you’ll gain the power to make more change in the future.

When the Straight Path isn’t the Fastest Path

Most of us prefer to tackle problems straight on. However, real change depends on human behavior, which is anything but linear. By taking the time to weave together many threads for the same case, you’ll get the buy-in and authority to execute your plan.

What have you done to get leader support? Is there anything you would do differently next time?