Corporate sustainability and leadership

Dr. Conchita L. ManabatAs organizations become infused with value, they are no longer regarded as expendable tools; they develop a concern for self-maintenance. By making a distinctive set of values, the organization acquires a character structure, an identity. Maintaining the organization is no longer simply an instrumental matter of survival but becomes a struggle to preserve a set of unique values. A vital role of leadership is to define and defend these values.” –— Institutions & Organizations / By W. Richard Scott

Companies or corporations are legal entities formed to carry out specific undertakings with set goals. Behind every legal entity is an organization and, like living organisms, organizations grow, develop, function, produce and evolve over time.

The movement from one stage of development to another depends on a confluence of factors. Some organizations manage to go through the many phases of corporate cycle from infancy to prime and levels off at stability. From stability, others slide to a stage of “diminishing value” leading to eventual demise. There are those that prematurely “perish” without experiencing any significant development.  A few manage to “reinvent themselves” before approaching stability and to create a new wave of corporate cycle aimed at a “new level of prime”.  Some exceptional ones continue to manage overlapping waves of corporate cycle resulting to multilevels of primes, continuously changing and evolving.

What makes the few exceptional ones become institutions? Why do they excel and survive the many challenges of corporate being?

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in Built to Last distinguished organizations that have survived the test of time and they call them “visionary companies” or “premier institutions”. They exhibit qualities or attributes in “being and doing” that stand the test of time.

One of the key factors cited in the Collins and Porras study of successful organizations that become institutions is leadership. Strong, committed, competent and thinking leaders are at the helms of organizations that endure through the threats and tests of time, trials and triumphs. The research covered visionary companies like 3M, American Express, Boeing, Citi, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart and Walt Disney. These institutions have been led by strong, visionary and committed leaders.

The Philippine business landscape is not wanting of premier and visionary institutions with unwavering leaders known for their competence, fortitude and character. As the country develops amid the myriads of challenges, some exceptional business leaders have managed to ride the waves of change bringing their respective organizations to new levels of highs and more.

The unfolding Asean integration 2015 brings a new set of demands to the business organizations and their leaders. It would mean, among other things, that the country, along with other Asean member-states, should be amenable to zero-import duties for Asean products and services to ensure a free flow of goods and services within the Asean Economic Community. Corollary to this, Asean member-state nationals should be able to work anywhere in the region without work permit.  Competition would therefore be more and more intense among the member-states.

Hopefully, it would spur more innovation, higher quality and increased production, greater opportunities for investments, capital sourcing and the availability of skilled labor. Will the leaders ably navigate the way forward to Asean integration and level up their respective organizations? What will spell the difference? What will the future be?

They say exceptional leaders can shape the future. I dare say, the future holds the answers.


Dr. Conchita L. Manabat is the president of the Development Center for Finance and a trustee-treasurer of Children’s Hour Foundation. A past chairman of the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes (IAFEI), she now serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Council of the said organization. She is also a member of the Consultative Advisory Groups of the International Auditing & Assurance Standards Board and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants. She can be reached at


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