The global business environment has become increasingly complex and dynamic, with each industry facing a unique set of challenges. Although thorough studies have been conducted to identify which aspects of industry shape its culture the most, it has yet to be determined which type of leadership best facilitates innovation in said culture. Innovation is often the cornerstone of organizational success, as firms that are slow to adapt are likely to become extinct in the face of continual external pressure.

In this article, we discuss what sustainable leaders do to foster innovation in the workplace. We will discuss the essential traits of a sustainable leader, as well as the best practices these leaders should follow to encourage creativity and growth.  


In order to create a competitive advantage and ensure the highest possible quality for all stakeholders, innovation must be employed in strategic planning. It is a powerful means of producing wealth and has become an invaluable value-adding process across many organizations. Efficiency plays an important role in the success of a business but cannot sustain its growth long-term. 

For innovative processes to thrive within an organization, it is vital that they create a culture and atmosphere which is conducive to change, encourages information exchange and allows them to quickly respond to new opportunities. Companies equipped with enhanced capabilities can draw on external knowledge sources as catalysts for internal affairs and innovation. 

It is also essential that employees are provided with recognition and rewards for exhibiting innovative behavior. Furthermore, those responsible for spearheading innovation must be adept at recognizing errors, uncovering new opportunities, and improving or abandoning existing projects. Ultimately, the organizational culture of a particular workgroup will strongly influence the success of an organization’s differentiation strategy through the implementation of innovative ideas. 


Sustainable leadership and innovation

In the present era, one of the most important core competencies for the success of an organization is innovation. To be able to lead and manage a sustainable innovative organization, it is essential that a leader must have certain skills. The leader should have: 

  • The capacity to breed creativity by inspiring people,  
  • Strong problem-solving and decision-making skills,  
  • The ability to understand and manage change in an organization,  
  • The capability to foster trust and an open environment.  
  • The ability to comprehend the strengths and weaknesses of each individual while at the same time they should provide continuous feedback on performance.  
  • The capability to drive innovation with their confidence while motivating employees towards achieving results.  
  • Networking capabilities as well as being able to link different departments within an organization for collective success.  

Innovation is also a long process as it requires hard work, dedication, and motivation from the leader. Thus, in order to be able to lead an organization and facilitate innovation in it, leaders should possess the aforementioned qualities.  

Without exhausting the list of qualities, it is important to mention that the activity of innovation within any organization is highly dependent on the remarkable skills and abilities of its leadership. By learning from previous mistakes and experiences, organizations can create a culture of innovation through effective leadership and strategic planning.  


5 Ways on How Sustainable Leaders Innovate 

  1. Utilizing Technology

Sustainable leadership requires understanding how technology can be used to reduce environmental impacts and increase efficiency. From artificial intelligence (AI) to renewable energy sources, there is no shortage of tools and strategies available to sustainable leaders. By harnessing these technologies, forward-thinking innovators can find ways to streamline operations, reduce waste and empower employees to make more informed decisions. 


Walmart, one of the world’s largest retail corporations, has undertaken several digital transformations aimed at eliminating unnecessary energy and resource usage while providing more comprehensive supply chain control. To this end, they have implemented a plethora of built-in IoT sensors and shelf-scanning robots which not only reduce energy consumption but also improve the customer experience. Furthermore, Walmart is a successful e-retailer, offering services such as Mobile Express Returns and QR code scanning which enable customers to shop from the comfort of their homes, thus reducing transport usage and emissions.  


Innovation has always been at the core of Walmart’s business strategy. In 2018, they patented the idea of a robobee – an autonomous drone designed for crop pollination, equipped with cameras and sensors. This could revolutionize the farming industry, but most importantly it will make Walmart more efficient in its food supply chain management by detecting potential agricultural issues and minimizing food waste. 

  1. Encouraging Collaboration 

Innovation is a collaborative effort – no single person can achieve success on their own. Sustainable leaders understand the importance of working with others in order to create meaningful change. They focus on building relationships with key stakeholders, and forming partnerships that facilitate knowledge sharing and ultimately lead to new ideas. These innovative leaders encourage teamwork and open communication, creating an environment where everyone can contribute their skills and insights.  

One example of successful collaboration is the partnership between Microsoft and Accenture to Help Organizations Tackle Their Greatest Sustainability Challenges. Through the use of Microsoft’s cutting-edge AI solutions, the two companies have developed innovative solutions that allow businesses to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint. The partnership has enabled them to create a comprehensive venue for businesses to monitor, measure and manage their sustainability efforts in real-time.  

  1. Empowering Employees 

Sustainable leadership also involves empowering employees at every level of the organization. From front-line workers to senior executives, everyone should have a say in the decision-making process and have their ideas taken seriously. They foster an atmosphere of trust and respect, so employees feel comfortable sharing their knowledge and experiences. This kind of open dialogue leads to improved performance, increased creativity, and greater overall success for the company.  


At the heart of empowering employees is providing them with the resources and training they need to succeed. Companies like Unilever have taken steps to ensure that their employees are equipped with the tools and skills necessary to come up with innovative solutions for sustainability. They offer a wide range of on-the-job learning activities and workshops that help employees develop their skills and build their knowledge. 

  1. Investing in Sustainability 

Investing in green initiatives and responsible practices pays off in both the short term and long term. This could mean introducing energy-saving technologies or allocating funds for research and development into more sustainable practices. Sustainable leaders also work to ensure their operations comply with relevant regulations and standards, creating a culture of compliance within the company.  


Walmart is a great example of an organization investing in sustainability. In 2017, they launched Project Gigaton – a global initiative aiming to reduce 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases from their supply chain by 2030. For instance, the project is designed to encourage suppliers to make more sustainable choices, such as using renewable energy sources or reducing packaging waste.  

  1. Taking Calculated Risks 

While failure is inevitable at some point, these types of pioneers have the insight needed to weigh the pros and cons before making any decisions. This careful approach allows them to persevere in spite of setbacks, knowing that their vision will eventually become reality if they stay focused on achieving their goals. Sustainable leadership requires an understanding of risk management – but with the right kind of attitude and preparation, it can be used as a powerful tool for success.  


One example of a sustainable leader taking risks is Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Tesla Impact, the company’s sustainability program, is proof of Musk’s willingness to take risks and try new things. The initiative has seen Tesla embrace renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, while also improving vehicle efficiency and shifting to a circular economy model. 


Kiimkern & Sustainable Innovation 


At Kiimkern, we are committed to creating a sustainable future. We seek to innovate and develop solutions that are both economically viable and environmentally conscious. Our team of experts is dedicated to developing breakthrough technologies and building partnerships with like-minded organizations that share our vision for a greener, more equitable world.  

We believe in the power of collaboration and are committed to helping businesses become more efficient, profitable, and sustainable. Through our network of global partners, we strive to create meaningful, long-term change that benefits society as a whole.