The Sustainable Leadership Pyramid (SLP) shows a bundle of 23 integrated and mutually supportive leadership practices that demonstrably confer competitive advantage on a firm and make it difficult for competitors to copy.

These evidence-based practices contribute to “honeybee” leadership, and are diametrically opposed to the unsustainable “locust” practices frequently seen in business-as-usual management.

The SLP diagram illustrates the relationships between 14 foundation practices that enable 6 higher-level practices, which, in turn, facilitate 3 key performance drivers. All 23 leadership practices combine to enhance performance outcomes on multiple measures, as shown at the apex of the pyramid.

ISL's Sustainable Leadership Pyramid


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Individual foundation practices can be introduced at any time the organisation’s decision makers agree on. While perfecting each practice may take some time, all of them contribute in various combinations to supporting other practices and driving performance outcomes.

The higher level practices require some or all of the foundation practices to be in place. In other words, they cannot be successfully introduced in isolation.

Key performance drivers refer to organisational behaviours that are of most concern to client and customer experiences – staff engagement, quality and innovation.

Importantly, research evidence shows that each of the 23 factors independently confers competitive advantage on a firm. Their effects are even higher when operating together. Observations of sustainable, high-performing and resilient enterprises from around the world reinforce this.

Assessing your organisation

The Sustainable Leadership Pyramid can frame a Strategic Assessment of your organisation’s sustainable leadership practices from the point of view of your organisation. Doing so provides guidance for managers and practitioners in ensuring that they adopt practices that demonstrably benefit their firm’s performance and resilience. The Strategic Assessment process relies on available information augmented by interviews with relevant executives.

The Sustainable Leadership Survey enriches the Strategic Assessment by adding information from different stakeholder groups about how they actually experience the current leadership practices. An additional benefit of this survey is that it focuses attention on leadership practices throughout the organisation – this itself is a valuable undertaking.

For a more detailed explanation of how the Strategic Assessment works, feel free to contact us.