Automotive and Leadership Sustainability: Are They Aligned?

The automotive sector has changed some of the ways that they are doing business today.  There is much more focus on green technology and sustainability, both of which will become critical components of  a thriving automotive sector in the future.  Because technology has changed, how we operate as leaders needs to change as well.

The use of green technology to support automotive is being integrated into this changing industry.  Green technology incorporates the use of processes and applications that support the environment, which helps to achieve a more sustainable future.  Existing green technologies include alternative fuels, alternate ways to generate energy and the efficient use of energy.  The introduction of  plug-in electric vehicles, advanced gas engines, fuel cells and alternative hydrogen are just a few examples, all of which support sustainability in the automotive industry. According to the recent study A New Era of Sustainability (2011) conducted by Accenture and UN Global Compact, research shows that 100% of the CEOs in the automotive industry feel sustainability is necessary for the future.  The data also shows that 95% of the CEOs feel sustainability should be integrated into the company from strategy to operations.

Supporting and understanding sustainability in the automotive sector are just part of the equation.  Translating support and understanding into actions would enable automotive to be successful in the future.  Some examples of actions and integration of vision into reality are the development of electric plug-ins, hybrid technology, fuel cells and air powered vehicles.  This technology and those individuals leading these efforts in the automotive industry need not only an understanding and support of sustainability,  but also the skills, behavior and drive to succeed.  Understanding the automotive CEO’s support of sustainability and criticality for the future, how is it then being translated into the other leaders of the organization?  Are the leaders equipped with the right skills and behaviors to support the change that is taking place?  Adapting to change is not as easy as we would like to believe.  People would have to welcome the change and feel comfortable with uncertainty.  The leaders need to have the ability to translate vision into reality supporting these sustainable initiatives.  According to the study, A New Era of Sustainability, while 95% of the executives feel employees need to have the appropriate skills and capabilities, only 52% have the right development in place.  It also states that 24% feel lack of knowledge and skills are a barrier to implementation.  Knowing all of this, it is apparent there needs to be more than support and understanding; it is key that alignment takes place between vision and sustainability in the future.

Automotive companies like Fisker Automotive have already begun the long trek to achieving a more sustainable future.  Set to release the first sports luxury plug-in hybrid car, Fisker, a California-based automaker, prides itself on driving sustainable and innovative vehicles into the market.  Paragon recently sat down with Fisker VP of Supplier Quality and Purchasing, Linda Theisen, to learn more about the steps Fisker is taking to lead the industry in sustainability and green technology. Watch the interview below:

Written by:

Candice Reyes, Executive Coach and Consultant

Automotive Sector Lead


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