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Daina Mazutis and Christopher Zintel

If global business can make a difference, what type of leadership character is needed to help solve the world’s most pressing problems such as climate change, resource scarcity, poverty alleviation or human rights abuses? In this chapter, we examine how corporations and their leaders have traditionally approached the societal and environmental impact of their operations and argue that both traditional corporate social responsibility and value chain approaches are insufficient to address the scale and scope of the issues facing our planet and our people today. We argue instead that what is needed is a systems approach so that organizations can realize their greatest possibility for positive impact, by which we mean the positive social, environmental and economic impacts that can result from organizational activities. Finally, we argue that in order to perceive, initiate, manage and deliver this systems approach and move “beyond corporate social responsibility”, what we need are global leaders of strong and virtuous character. Our unique contribution in this chapter is therefore to combine the corporate sustainability and leadership literatures in a manner that deepens our understanding of the leadership virtues required to make a meaningful difference in today’s challenging, complex and interdependent global systems.

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Bobby Banerjee, Timo Busch, Tom Cooper, Josephine Stomp and Daina Mazutis