Optimal performance and sustainable success are what every business strives to achieve. In this sense, sustainability refers to creating a business model and patterns of working that can be maintained throughout changing markets and business environments, rather than environmental and societal sustainability. The PDF looks at a definition of environmental sustainability in business. Marcel Kooter is an Associate of Telos Partners, which put together a paper on the Seven Elements of Sustainable Success. These seven elements are the core focus of the work of Telos Partners, underpinning the proposition of the business. Telos Partners has been working with businesses for more than two decades, advising on the best ways to utilise these seven elements of sustainable success to achieve and maintain optimal performance. 

Self-Determination and Ambition 

The first key element in the Telos Partners philosophy is self-determination and ambition. Successful change in business can only be achieved when individuals have the drive and determination to overcome obstacles and reach goals. Organisations that last tend to have leaders that have an entrepreneurial spirit, spotting key opportunities and working hard to ensure that those opportunities benefit all stakeholders whoever they may be, including the business, customers, society or the environment. Ambition is necessary not only to get a fledgling business or idea off the ground, but to be a driving force behind growth, change and development throughout every stage of the business. 

Leadership Formation 

While the ambition and self-determination of individuals is essential, it is rare to see a successful business with only one driving force. Successful business leaders surround themselves with teams of people who are able to visualise and carry out each new idea or project. In the early stages of the business, these may simply be talented members of the team who share the objectives of the owner. A definition of leadership communication can be seen in the embedded short video. 

Core Ideology 

The core ideology of a new start-up is essentially the vision of the owner. Over time, this core ideology will evolve with the business as it grows and achieves success. This single ideology will eventually grow into a belief system that is shared by the entire team and reflected in the brand and actions of the company. 

Vision and Strategy 

The vision and strategy of a business focuses on the key objectives to be hit by a certain point in the future. A sustainable business will have a clearly defined pathway, working towards a shared goal that is measurable and identifiable. The vision of a business may also include its unique selling points or other market strategies to ensure that customers gain value from using their products or services. 

Engagement and Mobilisation 

The successful development of a business requires engaging and mobilising all employees, not just those in leadership positions. Long-term organisations are more likely to expend time, energy and resources on employee engagement and empowering them to be part of the business as it changes and grows. The infographic has some tips on boosting employee engagement. 


The sixth element for sustainable success is alignment – bringing together the systems, processes, behaviours and organisational structure that underpin every activity of the business. Investing in these from the earliest stage helps to build a solid foundation for success that can be measured and maintained, even when there are bumps in the road. 


Change is inevitable in any business that wants to achieve lasting success, even in those that have put all six of the previous elements into place. To create sustainable success, a business must be prepared and able to adapt to changes in the market.