Magazine article New Zealand Management

INTOUCH : When Growth Is Unsustainable

Magazine article New Zealand Management

INTOUCH : When Growth Is Unsustainable

Article excerpt

The ethos currently driving business is not sustainable and business leaders have to stop acting like adolescents in denial. That's the unequivocal message from world-renowned sporting and business coach Sir John Whitmore.

I would say that any leader who still believes in the holy grail of growth is irresponsible. They're living in a myth -- living in the past," he says. "While some are talking about triple bottom line reporting -- profits, people, planet -- decision making is still primarily made on profit. But we are moving into a state, environmentally, where decisions are going to have to be made on the planet ahead of people and profit."

Executive chair of UK-based Performance Consultants and a leading figure in the international coaching community, Whitmore was in New Zealand recently to talk to delegates at the International Leaders in Sport conference about values-based leadership and how to recognise change as opportunity.

Leaders have to evolve, he says, because the context within which business takes place is changing very fast.

Instant communication changes things; globalisation changes things; environmental responsibility hugely changes things. There is also the present insecurity around economic fragility that is impacting on business and on leaders.

So what are the qualities business leaders need to be able to cope with these changes? Many are still too focused on this month's bottom line to look over their VDUs to see the world out there is changing."

At present, he says the collective needs and objectives of humanity are being reshaped faster than ungainly corporates can change course and it's the smaller, more agile and entrepreneurial businesses that are taking the lead. Present economic insecurity is even prompting some business leaders to retrench back into older more hierarchical and autocratic behaviour patterns at a time when there is actually greater demand for personal choice and self responsibility, he says.

Even though Whitmore has a tough wake-up call for business leaders, he is welcomed by many because they recognise something has to change. …

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