Leaders who seek to guide their companies through ESG transitions should strive to develop seven competencies, a review of literature and practice from Nyenrode Business University and KPMG reveals.

According to Dr. Muel Kaptein, Equity Partner at KPMG and speaker at the ESG Innovation Institute, these competencies are compassion, curiosity, commitment, creativity, courage, cooperation, and consistency.

“ESG leaders should ensure their actions are guided by a strong moral compass which roots their decisions in core values that align with ESG objectives. This allows for a passionate and compassionate approach to leadership.”

“Where a leader encounters problems, they must react with an inquisitive mindset and take bold steps to solve the issue, sometimes in spite of push-back. Leaders must not shy away from confrontation, or be cowed by CEO-bashing, wokeism, and cancel culture.” says Dr. Kaptein.

However, according to the research ESG leaders cannot push through changes by themselves. They must foster collaboration through networks and partnerships, inspiring and learning from those around them.

There are no short-cuts in ESG leadership. Leaders must be consistent and committed to delivering on sustainability targets. Dr. Kaptein warns that failure to do so will be viewed as hypocritical and opportunistic. This is damaging to leaders and their organisations.

The ESG Innovation Institute was founded by KPMG and Nyenrode Business University, with an aim to make the latest ESG knowledge, skills, and ecosystem available to executives who want to accelerate the route to sustainability in a professional and informed way.

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