Authors: Bill Joiner & Stephen Josephs
Leadership Agility is an introduction and a guide to becoming a more agile leader. The ability to adapt to, and initiate, change is not only desired in today’s society – it is required. Uncertain working conditions and global competition call for strategic measures to sustained success in business. The book is highly relevant to CSR professionals as it may be used as a tool to initiating and leading change, a task some of us face daily on our quest to challenge business-as-usual. Change is needed if we are to confront and manage the great challenges of our time.
In the face of these challenges, Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs propose the concept of leadership agility. Their piece is based on years of research and maps out a complex theory on human development. This development is captured in the five stages of agility – expert, achiever, catalyst, co-creator and synergist. The reader is encouraged to identify their current level of agility in order to start growing as leaders. One may also use the book to analyze the leadership agility of managers or organizations.
Joiner and Josephs explicitly explain the different characteristics of each level, and draw upon real life examples from business leaders. The third and last part of the book is a guide on how to move within and beyond your current agility level.
I found the book difficult to understand at first. The theory is complicated, and one should bear in mind that the book requires deep concentration as well as inspiration to read. Identifying one’s own level of agility turns out to be a difficult task and I got more out of the book as I let go of this mission. Leadership Agility is a valuable read that had an impact on me in the end. After reading this book, I have become more aware of how my thoughts and emotions play into my performance and set my direction as a young professional. I feel better equipped to handle everyday situations and decisions and – perhaps – more agile.
Katja Blomé, CSR International
Authors: Karel Mulder, Didac Ferrer and Harro van Lente
Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing
Historically, improving the quality of life has been the main driver for the advent of technology. But the long term effects of new technologies are more often than not unforeseen. And when unwanted side effects of new technologies cause critical damage to our environment, the natural impulse is to turn to other technological developments to replace or reverse the effect of the old ones. Far from being a straightforward process, making technology more sustainable brings to the surface entire sets of problems and paradoxes.
Presented in the form of an academic communication session, the bulk of this book comprises a series of case studies all aimed at improving the economic, environmental or social performance of technologies and resource management. An introductory study and a chapter on conclusions frame the eleven studies looking at materials and energy, urbanisation, transport and water management.
Acknowledging both the Bruntland Commission definition of sustainability and the vagueness of the term, this volume investigates the complex ways in which different manifestations – or articulations – of sustainability conflict with each other and the way technology is intertwined with economic interests, policy-making, cultural habits or social goals. Can applying the same technology yield completely different and sometimes opposite results? Is it possible that the very process of recycling is damaging to the environment? How long until the end of oil, or the beginning of the hydrogen-fuelled society? These are only a few of the huge number of puzzling questions that scientists and researchers are trying to answer.
With its extensive biography and wide range of topics, the book is an excellent introductory read for anyone trying to get the grips of how sustainability works and how technological developments relate to it.
Leonard Bacica, CSR International
Author: Wayne Visser
Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing
This book is a journey of two kinds. First, it is an autobiography of Dr. Wayne Visser, one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders in Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, and a Top 100 Global Sustainability Leader. Second, the book presents the recent evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or as Dr. Visser’s coined the term – Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility.
The Quest for Sustainable Business takes the reader on a voyage from the African continent to Europe, then to Asia Pacific and the Americas with the final destination in the United Kingdom. Incidentally, this route reflects the life journey of the author, who was born in Zimbabwe and spent his childhood in South Africa, and who now lives in London, UK.
With the CSR concept much promulgated in Western society, the book can be a surprising discovery of CSR undertakings in the developing world. For example, the book highlights a number of market and government initiatives in Kenya, Nigeria, China and India. Nevertheless, it is somewhat disappointing that the author does not elaborate on the state of CSR in Russia – a country with world’s largest energy resources and forest reserves.
The book can be valuable to anyone who is interested in the diverse and contested concept of CSR and its development in different parts of the world. As the reader discovers along the journey, drivers for CSR range from economic, political, social, cultural and even geographical characteristics. The latter becomes apparent when comparing the Netherlands and Australia. How does this happen? Perhaps it would be better to let the reader find out what a difference can be made by the immediate need for a remedy and how this can transform the identity of a nation.
Karina Yadav, CSR International
1. The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook: How to Transform your Company (Bob Willard)
This book is a guide primarily for someone who wants to start the sustainability transformation in a company that he or she owns or someone who wants to review the existing processes in such a company. This is also a great book for people who are open to moving towards new business models, governance systems as well as products and services. Review by Tolga Yavuz. Read more
2. The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organisations That Win (Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich)
This book is about both the why and the how of meaning at work. The why refers to the human search for meaning that finds its way into our organisations, a search that motivates and defines us. The how gets us into the practicalities of how leaders facilitate that search personally and among their employees. It provides specific tools and principles to help leaders put meaning to work. Review by Adil El Menyari. Read more
Author: Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich
This book is about both the why and the how of meaning at work.
The why refers to the human search for meaning that finds its way into our organisations, a search that motivates and defines us. The how gets us into the practicalities of how leaders facilitate that search personally and among their employees. It provides specific tools and principles to help leaders put meaning to work.
Divided into 10 chapters, this book covers a variety of topics including the economic value of creating an abundant work culture based on meaning. It provides a tool for the creation of an “abundant organisation”. It highlights seven questions to help leaders reach the abundance objective–
1 – What am I known for?
2 – Where am I going?
3 – Whom do I travel with?
4 – How do I build a positive work environment?
5 – What challenges interest me?
6 – How do I respond to disposability and change?
7 – What delights me?
The authors devote a separate chapter to each of these seven questions, focusing on real-world situations.
The book targets “leaders”. Ulrich defines leaders as meaning-makers – they set the direction that others aspire to, they help others participate in doing good work and good works, they communicate ideas and invest in practices that shape how people think, act and feel.
As one of the classics of CSR in business is employees’ engagement, Ulrich book designs a map to transform employees into stakeholders, so that they in turn become the organisation’s CSR advocates when interfacing with other stakeholders.
Finally, it is important to mention that the creation of meaning applies to countries as well as companies. One example shows how sustainability drives happiness to nations. Bhutan is a small country located in South Asia. Although most countries use the GNP index to measure national prosperity, this country established a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index to measure its progress. The GNH index assesses the progress of sustainable development, preservation of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance. Even with a low GNP, Bhutan citizens are considered among the happiest in the world. For this small country, true happiness and well-being are reflected in sustainable education, health, and environment.
Adil El Menyari, CSR International
Author: Bob Willard
Publisher: New Society Publishers
The most distinctive feature of the book is that it is a guide. The author underlines the importance of leadership as a means to sustainable transformation steps, where “leadership” is defined as the capacity to translate vision into reality. Another important issue is that one must primarily identify the issue of leveraging in a company and the people needed to make it happen. In the book, the process of change within companies is displayed clearly via visual tools. The second chapter is devoted to how one can change the process of the company one owns through seven steps. It should be noted that all the chapters are closely related and complementary to each other and the book as a whole is very easy to read. One can also find some questions in the book which challenge one to think about the process that currently exists in one’s given company.
Another impressive section is in Chapter 4. In this section, the topics are explained using paradoxes. Here’s a quote from that section, to give you an idea of what I mean – “You have to do it yourself; you can’t do it alone.”
So who should read this book? First of all, it’s for someone who wants to start the sustainability transformation in a company that he or she owns or someone who wants to review the existing processes in such a company. This is also a great book for people who are open to moving towards new business models, governance systems as well as products and services.
Why should one read this book? Simply put, in order to understand the dynamics in the area of sustainability, to learn some different approaches to this issue, to have a systematic structure in one’s efforts to reach the targets related to sustainability.
Tolga Yavuz, CSR International