As many of us can already sense, we are in the midst of a sea change. Legacy ways of doing things are breaking down, and the world’s challenges require more and more that we find ways to work with one another rather than against one another. Even in a free market, competitive system, this principle applies and has the potential to actually enhance capitalism for the better.

Take this article, for example. Author Dov Seidman highlights an example of thinking through more far-reaching consequences of how a business conducts itself with its employees and partners vs. implementing standard, near-term and self-focused responses. The latter is not sustainable and is the root of what has created many of the world’s problems today. Continuing to lead in this way will only keep us in an unsustainable pattern that will eventually collapse.

We are in great need of sustainable leadership now. This comes from considering the needs of others, serving others as we would serve ourselves. This is the definition of ethical leadership, which leads to sustainable leadership. As the article also outlines, ethical leadership is marked by “doing that which is inconvenient, unpopular, and even temporarily unprofitable in the service of long-term health and value.” Sustainable leadership choices are an investment in a long-term, positive outcome that considers the health of the whole.

Imagine for a moment the positive effects of considering others’ needs as a standard of business. You are still conducting business, yet in this new paradigm, gaining a competitive edge is based on inspiring employees to do their best work and operating as an ethical business. Imagine for a moment the ripples this kind of business climate could produce throughout the free market systemand the world.

How does your company practice ethical or sustainable leadership? What challenges do you find with implementing ethical or sustainable leadership? Reply in the comments below.