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

These 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 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. Observations of sustainable, high-performing and resilient enterprises from around the world reinforce this.

Assessing your organisation

The SLP provides guidance for managers and practitioners in ensuring that they adopt practices that demonstrably benefit their firm’s performance and resilience. The Sustainable Leadership Questionnaire can be used to assess your organisation on each of the 23 practices.

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