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For too long in the sustainability space, leadership has been about being first or having unassailable green credentials.

As Geoffrey Wilson, president and CEO of PortsToronto, explains, "Sustainability leadership is particularly challenging because it is a combination of long-term, authentic environmental best practices and the ability to be constantly developing new and innovative ways to reduce impacts."

Now that sustainability is mainstream, progressive executives increasingly adopt a more inclusive and transformational style of leadership. But while a business can go carbon neutral, any progress is siloed in the organization unless people become truly engaged and change their mindsets, says Ron Seftel, CEO of Bullfrog Power, Canada's leading green energy provider.

According to the insights captured in The Path Forward: Insights on a sustainable future from Canada's corporate leaders, a book released by Bullfrog Power this year, transformational sustainability leadership happens when organizations are honest about their impacts, open to new ways of doing business and encourage their partners – whether they be employees, industry peers or communities – to act.

The goal of the book, which features interviews with more than 60 executives from across Canada, was to draw back the curtain on some of Canada's most innovative small to medium businesses and leading corporate enterprises to learn the strategies and perspectives driving their sustainability platforms, says Mr. Seftel.

For John Coyne, Unilever Canada's VP of Legal and External Affairs, sustainability leadership is championing long-term, global objectives over short-term gains – and even re-thinking the very metrics by which we measure CSR initiatives.

"Leaders need to be trained in matters of sustainability beyond financial measures, and they must be able to articulate, persuasively, the difference between long-term value and short-term financial performance," he says. "The balance sheets as currently constructed do not lend themselves easily to assessing the value of sustainability investments. The next generation of leaders needs the courage of their convictions and commitment to create new measures and new accountabilities, and they must stay the course."

"One thing we've noticed, since taking a leadership approach to sustainability, is a positive shift in our employees' attitudes towards initiatives," says Dave Nicholls, general manager of Granville Island Brewery. "Our team has become more proactive in taking on new sustainability-focused projects. It seems that the business taking a leadership stance on sustainability has inspired team members to take more responsibility when it comes to climate change."

In The Path Forward, an emerging class of transformational sustainability leaders all share the idea that business can act as a force for good but that we need to work with others to ensure that it does. By making the digital edition of The Path Forward available online, Bullfrog Power is hoping to amplify those voices and get us closer to a sustainable future.

The Path Forward is now available at

This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation

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