Posts Tagged ‘stakeholder engagement’

One of the best benefits of studying at LBS is the access you get to a tremendous amount of events and conferences where you get to meet and hear from business leaders from all over the world. On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend an event from the Up Close series where Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games spoke about the vision and brand behind the London 2012 Olympic Games.

It is very embarrassing for me to admit that before going to hear Mr Coe speak, I had no idea that he won four Olympic medals and set eight outdoor and three indoor world records in middle distance track events. That’s impressive! But even more impressive (at least to me!) was Mr Coe’s speech where he focused on what differentiated London’s bid to host the Olympics compared to other great cities like Paris, Moscow, etc.

He talked a lot about building a competitive advantage by having a sustained, long-term vision and ensuring that you leave a positive legacy behind. If I understood him correctly, Mr Coe argued that London won the bid not because of being a great city with good infrastructure, but because his team was able to clearly articulate what the Olympics would do for people in the UK, such as encouraging children to get into sports and delivering the first fully-sustainable games in the world.

This line of thinking was not completely foreign to me. In fact, I think there is a movement going on today where in a changing world that is exceedingly complex, interconnected and unpredictable, businesses are realising that building resilience for tomorrow requires a focus on sustainability instead of on short-term gain.

Similar to Mr Coe, leaders at the recently held Davos also argued that a key challenge for forward-looking business leaders in 2011 and beyond will be to find the right balance between long-term value creation and pure profitability. This, they said, will require some “soul searching” for a lot of companies and continuous focus on operating as a valuable member of society, instead of just a product or service provider.

I agree and I think that as a result, businesses will also need to realise that they cannot operate in isolation and that leadership today means managing a range of complicated relationships in order to successfully address complex issues. Taking this stakeholder approach to sustainability will not be easy for many. But those who are patient and put the right resources and dedication in place to master it will benefit from continued growth and enjoy a unique competitive advantage in the new market reality.

What do you think? Is the sustainability movement building momentum and are businesses ready to navigate successfully through a complicated sea of stakeholder relations?

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