Sustainable Leadership in Europe: bridging the gap

CEC European Managers has published a new report on the state of Sustainable Leadership in Europe. The representative findings, based on a survey among 1500 managers from six EU countries, highlight a clear gap between the political ambition of transitioning to a greener and fairer future and the management reality on the ground. While many managers are convinced of the importance of sustainability, it is insufficiently put in practice in companies. The lacking implementation of sustainability measures may be linked to traditional leadership values, inadequate education and training of managers, as well as regulatory pitfalls.

The current global recession, climate emergency and socio-economic polarisation are a wake-up call. The findings of the « Sustainable Leadership in Europe » report clearly show that managers are aware of the importance and value of sustainability. However, the complex and interrelated challenges are too often not in line with the skills of the people who have to deal with them. Without skilled and committed managers, the required changes towards an economy in line with societal needs and planetary boundaries are likely to fail. The current narrative around the transition too often ignores the human side of things.

“The current challenges, especially the economic crisis, are complex to resolve. Fortunately, our ‘Sustainable Leadership in Europe’ report clearly highlights how to overcome a major obstacle to building a more resilient and sustainable economy. Managers need a European scheme equipping them with the right skills and knowledge needed in this transformation.”
– Ludger Ramme, President of CEC European Managers

It’s now about putting Sustainable Leadership into practice, by targeting those who are responsible for shaping the future of their companies. That’s why the project partners of the “Sustainable Leadership Project”, led by CEC European Managers, are developing an evidence-based European Pilot Training Programme for European managers on Sustainable Leadership. The innovative training will allow providing relevant knowledge, skills and resources for the change-makers of the future.

The « Sustainable Leadership in Europe » research, conducted by Professor Alberto Pastore and his team, introduces a new model of Sustainable Leadership. The reality on the ground, as revealed by the study, shows that ambition and capabilities are in mismatch. Its representative survey among more than 1500 managers in six European countries[1] shows the main areas in which managers need to improve.

The “Sustainable Leadeship in Europe” report gives relevant information about the state of Sustainability in European management.

When it comes to knowledge, many respondents are not aware of key political frameworks and legislation, such as the non-financial reporting directive. As far as values are concerned, only around 40% share values associated with sustainability. The education of managers, but also office culture, can be factors of explanation.. Only few managers are aware on what sustainability indicators are relevant to their organisation, left alone implementing an accurate materiality assessment.

Despite these challenges, the research also highlights that the topic of sustainability has clearly entered the mainstream. There is broad consensus on the importance of sustainability in general and associated indicators, such as respect for human rights or waste reduction, in particular. The comparison between the general managerial population and managers affiliated to CEC European Managers has highlighted how the latter generally score better on Sustainable Leadership, especially in the area of soft skills. A larger involvement of managers in social dialogue and professional associations could thus contribute to improve sustainability performance.

Lastly, the results of the survey can also be seen as an opportunity to put the upskilling of managers on top of political priorities. After the publication of the studies, the project will continue with a series of webinars and seminars, organised for managers from across Europe. Stay tuned!


Check out the Sustainable Leadership in Europe – Executive Summary
Please find the Press Release here.

[1] Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Denmark