The Courage of Ambition

“We need a bold new vision for society, new collective narratives and leaders to convey them.”

Arthur Auboeuf

To bridge the gap between insight and action, there’s a link missing: vision.

“The sine qua non of action is a clear, precise, solid, crystal-clear mandate.” – Eric Rampelberg

Because if “we are obliged to go through this confusing period where minds collide” as Bertrand Badré, former Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank and now President of Blue Like an Orange Sustainable Capital, says, “being courageous is to determine a course.”

That’s to say, to determine a common vision and shared goals, to move forward in the same direction together.

“The role of the leader is to come with convictions and an ambition for the company, linked to a real business plan,” says Virginie Morgon.

It’s part of a leader’s job to use stakeholder insights and expectations to inform plans and decision-making and, ultimately, determine the best way forward. But leaders must also have the courage to challenge stakeholders on beliefs and practices that don’t serve the larger vision and forge the path from their own ideas. It’s a delicate balance.

“As leaders, we cannot just pander to public opinion. We are paid too much to just do that.”

Adrien Couret

And what exactly gives leaders the authority to dream big and chart the course?

→ First, the conviction that companies have a critical role to play in the ecological transition.

It’s the influential nature of leadership and their potential to make a significant impact that enables leaders to be so optimistic, to believe in the future, and therefore to dream big and ambitiously for their companies.

“I’m of two minds on these topics, but overall I’m forced to be optimistic if I want to keep moving forward.” – Dénis Machuel, former CEO of Sodexo.

“I am optimistic by nature. I want to see all our commitments come to fruition and our objectives achieved.” – Sandrine Conseiller

→ The second sine qua non of ambition: So it’s important then that leaders have the freedom to carry out their responsibilities and execute in their role in alignment their vision.
“To be able to do things differently from the mainstream, you have to be independent. That’s why governance is paramount.” -Adrien Couret, Managing Director of Aéma Groupe.

But how do you bring this vision to life?

“The main challenge, in my opinion, is to make social and environmental responsibility an integral part of the business model.” – Carine Kraus

“I have always believed that corporate responsibility should be managed as a core part of the business model and not as a peripheral topic. It is not a question of sharing but of reciprocity between the company and its environment.” – Bruno Roche, CEO of Economics of Mutuality

“Social and environmental issues must be at the heart of corporate strategies. Today, rather, it is finance that drives the economy and not human interests: it’s time for us to take back control of the economy.”

Sandrine Dixson-Declève

So for a CSR strategy to be more than a mere marketing ploy, it can’t be disconnected from a company’s activities. Sustainability and social responsibility have to be embedded into the heart of a company’s business model.“We cannot be satisfied with incremental changes and disingenuous solutions just to show that we are changing, we need the ‘real deal,’ and to think about the big picture,” adds Emeric Préaubert, founding partner of Sycomore.


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