U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Federal Energy Management Program
Leadership Institutional Change Principle
For changing behavior among employees, leaders in Federal agencies should visibly communicate their own commitments to sustainability in the workplace. Such visible leadership will help achieve sustainability goals in the short term and continue to provide motivation for long-term benefits.
Leaders should have a deep understanding of the politics of the organization and the ability to inspire and influence employees. Someone in a leadership position should demonstrate his or her direct involvement as the initial person to commit to sustainability instead of simply admiring others' efforts. Active leadership from managers as well as from other staff members will propel messages that support sustainability goals.
To learn more about the leadership principle, see Evidence-Based Background Material Underlying Guidance for Federal Agencies in Implementing Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans Implementing Sustainability: The Institutional-Behavioral Dimension.
For successful applications of the leadership principle by Federal agencies and organizations, see the following institutional change case studies.
Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans
Most Federal agencies recognized the importance of leadership in their 2011 strategic sustainability performance plans (SSPPs). Learn how the following Federal agencies and organizations incorporated the leadership behavior change principle.
U.S. Department of Defense: The plan said that each military department would have a sustainability officer responsible for executing the plan. It also created a governance structure to ensure accountability and necessary coordination for meeting sustainability goals. The structure consisted of a Senior Sustainability Council; the Sustainability Implementation Working Group; and a set of relevant committees and work groups that cover many sustainability topics, such as greenhouse gases, energy, transportation, recycling, and green product procurement.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: All chief executive officers were made accountable for instilling the transformation of sustainability through their functional areas as well as supporting the assimilation of sustainability practices throughout the department. These obligations entailed communicating sustainability strategies, aims, objectives, and targets to workers; and creating the initiatives and responsibilities for application.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: The assistant secretary for civil works became responsible for the execution of the sustainability program and its compliance with Federal requirements. A strategic sustainability team—composed of commanders and senior executives—was to assist with the execution by developing strategic guidance and providing oversight. Routine activities were to be accomplished through work groups, project delivery teams, and communities of practice.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: From a leadership standpoint, the agency's sustainability activities focused on creating and maintaining personal ties with employees in an effort to reach out to them and improve performance. This process included showing that leadership is engaged, supportive, and appreciative of employees' grassroots efforts, dispelling the "I-am-only-one-person" mentality and the idea that efforts are not supported by management.
U.S. Department of Education: Leadership and accountability for sustainability was to be incentivized by including appropriate measures in the performance standards for relevant staff. These staff members included the senior sustainability officer, environmental and energy manager, real property manager, facility manager, contracting officers, contracting officer representatives, and procurement officers.
U.S. Department of Labor: Key personnel in leadership positions were to have responsibility for incorporating elements of the SSPP into their annual performance reviews. The chief financial officer was to be responsible for monitoring the plan's overall progress and assuming a proactive role for encouraging relevant offices.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: The strategic sustainability officer was to head an executive steering committee to consist of assistant administrators and senior regional management. The committee was established to guarantee suitability and pertinence of SSPP goals, and to offer guidance on processes and sustainability issues.