We interviewed visiting professor Dr Stefan Gröschl, who taught the courses Responsible Leadership & Sustainable Business Practices and Doing Business as Usual during EADA’s Sustainability Week (previously called the International Week). Dr Gröschl is Professor at ESSEC in Paris, France. He is widely recognised as an expert in responsible leadership, sustainability, diversity management, international human resources management, and organisational behaviour. Dr Gröschl has shared this expertise in a wide range of academic and public arenas, and has published numerous books. Stefan has worked with the French Interior Ministry, and has developed and conducted company training programs for firms in France and internationally.
Dr Gröschl’s course focuses on the responsibilities or individuals and companies and the changes needed to enact change in today’s increasingly complex globalised world.
What do you hope to achieve with your courses?
The aim of the course is to help students understand why continuing to do business as usual is unsustainable. They learn how to change the individual and organisational mindset toward engaging in greater responsible and sustainable actions that address today’s complex and pressing socio-economic and environmental challenges.
How do you define responsible leadership?
An individual who is doing good and well at the same time: any decision maker who considers the concerns of all stakeholders, and the socio-economic and environmental aspects affected by her decisions.
What is the focus of your research in responsible leadership?
In terms of responsible leadership, my colleagues and I have been exploring why some companies and company leaders engage in sustainable business practices while others don’t. We have extensively studied the cognitive development of company leaders such as Jochen Zeitz, former CEO of Puma. Our findings show that as he developed a more complex mindset that also included non-business lenses, Zeitz also developed a more inclusive understanding of sustainability and adopted proactive initiatives that went beyond business-as-usual.
What are the keys to becoming a responsible leader?
Aside from traditional leadership skills and competencies, responsible leaders have a greater sense of self-reflection and the ability to make sense of the complexities and paradoxes that they increasingly face when making decisions.
What is the role of business leaders in this transformative process towards organisational sustainability and responsibility?
Business leaders play a critical role in any transformative process, as they shape the vision of business. But students should know that organisational change can start at all levels – students therefore play an equally important role in creating and shaping organisational transformation and change toward greater sustainable business practices and processes.
What is the role of the individual as a driver for increasing sustainability at the organisational level?
Leading organisational change toward greater sustainable business practices starts at an individual level with self-reflection and a better self-understanding of one’s personal values and beliefs that shape and influence the actions and decisions at an organizational level.