Driving Better Sustainability Outcomes Faster and with Lower Costs by Inspiring High-Performing Teams


Service At-A-Glance

  • A one-year engagement, parsed across four distinct phases, to dramatically improve sustainability team performance outcomes.
  • A common-sense approach for working with sustainability teams comprised of dedicated and part-time “borrowed” staff.
  • A feasibility assessment of the skillsets required to achieve sustainability goals and strategies to address missing skillsets.



This service is a one-year coaching engagement divided into twelve monthly increments. Over the course of one year, sustainability team leaders work directly with coach Jody Bickel, CEO and Founder of Creekbank Associates, to achieve better outcomes faster and often with lower expense.

Teams Coaching guides sustainability team leaders to get the most out of their internal teams, whether they are made up of full-time dedicated staff or part-time staff borrowed from other departments. The end result is that sustainability teams fully deliver on an organization’s most important initiatives, bolstering confidence in that team across the entire enterprise. Coach Jody Bickel provides focus, structure and guidance directly to team leaders through these four phases of activity:

  • Feasibility Analysis. Current sustainability initiatives are analyzed and compared to other clients Coach Jody Bickel has served. This creates clarity for what the team is tasked with achieving and how feasible this might be compared to team size and skillsets. This is a high-level assessment of how ready a team is to execute against current sustainability initiatives. This is not a visioning exercise designed to create clarity about larger sustainability goals or initiative coaching related to specific projects.
  • Skillset Assessment and Gap Identification. Coach Bickel and the team leader assess the skillsets of the existing team to determine strengths, weaknesses and any missing skills. Coach Bickel also assesses the culture, chemistry and camaraderie of the team. This lays the foundation for understanding how the team can perform much better and which levers need to be pulled to unlock even greater productivity.
  • Team Formation. If an existing sustainability team is in place, Coach Bickel advises the team leader to help staff find the best seat on the bus for their capabilities, passions and interests. If a team is not in place, Coach Bickel advises the team leader about how to assemble, motivate and operate a new team.
  • Ongoing Team Operations. Coach Bickel meets monthly with the team leader to assess the performance of the team, identify bottlenecks and brainstorm solutions to achieve even better outcomes.

The precise timing of each of these phases within the overall engagement is customized to fit the needs of the sustainability leader and their organization. In our experience, sustainability team effectiveness is directly tied to these four fundamental planning and implementation elements.  This approach significantly improves the likelihood that sustainability leaders achieve meaningful and lasting success.

The results for the leader and their organization typically include:

  • Greater clarity on the overall mission of the team, including goals and timelines. Team clarity is essential because there are few meaningful projects implemented by a party of one.
  • An accurate and clear-eyed understanding of what types of skills are needed to achieve the mission and strategies for sourcing these diverse skills from across the organization.
  • An inspired, well-formed team that is energized to move forward and capable of tackling big things together.
  • Meaningful progress on sustainability commitments with results that are noticeable inside and outside the organization.
  • Team members who are more invested in sustainability progress and who emanate positive energy across the enterprise.
  • A team leader who has more time and energy to apply toward meeting the performance requirements of their position.


Why Is This Service Necessary?

Through our work across numerous industries and consulting with C-suite, Director, and program level roles, we have identified these common sustainability team challenges:

  1. Most sustainability leaders have little authority while being held accountable to achieve big things. This usually means leaders have to produce results with far more carrot than stick.
  2. Many sustainability leaders “borrow” employees from other departments. In some instances, those department heads may not understand or be as supportive of sustainability goals as is necessary to achieve those goals.
  3. It’s challenging to foster team chemistry among people who may not have ever collaborated before. There are challenging dynamics and potential loyalty conflicts when leading a diverse, cross-cutting group of participants who may come from different departments.
  4. Team members often have variable commitment levels based on their primary job responsibilities. Large organizations may be able to provide dedicated, full-time team members. But smaller organizations may organize their efforts through ad-hoc, revolving participants.
  5. Sustainability leaders are often under great pressure to prove their worth to the enterprise. Many leaders feel as if they have only a few quarters to fix systemic issues that likely evolved over many decades.




Who Needs This Service?

Typically, our clients are sustainability leaders who bear the responsibility to deliver on their organization’s environmental commitments. They are the tip of the spear for enhancing social license to operate. That’s a lot of pressure. These leaders often include:

  • Presidents and C-Suite leaders
  • Partners, Principals and Executive Directors
  • Global, National and Regional Chief Officers
  • Senior Environment and ESG Leads




This service begins with a consultation between Coach Jody Bickel and the sustainability leader. The purpose of this session is to establish the overall timing and benchmarks for this four-phased engagement. After the consultation, Coach Bickel creates a one-year customized work plan, usually comprised of the following phases.


Phase One – Feasibility Analysis

This phase is about assessing the sustainability team’s readiness to execute against the broader mission and the goals that the organization has committed to. To make this practical, Coach Bickel and the sustainability leader engage in three exercises.

First, they discuss the overall mission of the sustainability function and the expectations of organization leaders. This is about calibrating what is expected of the team leader. Second, they discuss both public and private commitments the organization has made to understand risks to social license to operate. This includes a high-level review of current-year initiatives and goals. Third, they assess the current team and their history of performance, if there is a team in place. Coach Bickel analyzes all three factors in light of other sustainability teams she’s coached to ultimately assign a “readiness to execute” score from 1-10, where 1 equals not at all ready and 10 equals absolutely ready.


Phase Two – Skillset Assessment and Gap Identification

This phase is about identifying the skills that are necessary to achieve the sustainability team’s mission and goals. Building on the clarity of the Feasibility Analysis, Coach Bickel works with the sustainability team leader to complete three exercises: necessary skills, current skills and missing skills. This ultimately culminates in a “skills map” which helps the leader understand what steps they need to take next.

Necessary skills are those which the team must possess to achieve the goals. Current skills are those which the team collectively possesses today. Missing skills are those which must be sourced to achieve the mission and goals. In our experience, most sustainability teams are resource-constrained, especially when it comes to talent. This phase makes it crystal clear to the team leader which skills they need to add to the team.


Phase Three – Team Formation                          

In this phase, Coach Bickel guides the sustainability team leader to source Missing skills and form a high-performing team. This phase is usually comprised of three exercises: recruitment, mission and cadence. This is about creating clarity of expectations and excitement with the new sustainability team for what they can achieve and why it’s important.

(Please note that many of the exercises in this phase are applicable to existing teams too. However, the activity for each of the three exercises is reduced to only that which is necessary to get the team focused and excited about the mission and goals).

Recruitment is about defining strategies to source missing skills. Coach Bickel has a great deal of experience and can recommend strategies to quickly fill these gaps with people who are a great fit. Mission is about articulating, in compelling language, why the sustainability team exists. The goal is to create excitement, buy-in and a willingness amongst team members to go the extra mile. Cadence is about making expectations clear with team members about how often the team will meet, what the team will focus on and what’s required of each team member.


Phase Four – Team Operations

This phase is about guiding the sustainability team leader to get the most from the team. Usually, this phase is comprised of three exercises: observation, monthly scorecard coaching and twice-a-year assessments. During this phase, Coach Bickel partners closely with the sustainability leader to help them achieve maximum productivity from the team.

Observation is about Coach Bickel observing, usually monthly, the sustainability team’s interactions. One of Coach Bickel’s core recommendations will be that the sustainability team meet once a month to document progress, discuss bottlenecks and brainstorm solutions. Coach Bickel is usually a silent observer of the team.

Monthly Scorecard coaching is about Coach Bickel and the sustainability team leader meeting once a month to complete a MOSA: Monthly Objectives Situational Assessment. The scorecard is usually comprised of 7-10 key performance indicators. The team leader is asked to give each indicator a green, yellow or red score and asked for their reasons for doing so. Over time, this creates clarity for what the team leader should focus on to get the best possible performance from the team.

Twice-a-year assessments are about the team leader and Coach Bickel assessing the team’s likelihood of achieving goals so that the leader can accurately forecast outcomes, especially to executives.

The outcomes of this service position the leader to substantively deliver on a clear set of sustainability objectives through the optimal performance of multiple, effective project teams. At this stage, the leader is in a great place to clarify and move forward on more initiatives and can further benefit from additional coaching packages and technical project services to drive progress in targeted areas.



As your trusted advisor, Coach Jody Bickel helps you achieve delivery of sustainability objectives through effective goal-setting, skills assessment, formation and leadership of project teams. The sustainability leader role is one that demands both technical and leadership expertise and at an enterprise-wide level. In our experience, working with sustainability leaders from executive to program-level, the difference between success or failure is about how equipped the leader is to elevate their team’s performance to deliver on commitments. Our logical and programmatic approach tips the scales in your favor.

Beneficial outcomes we often see include:  

  • Much better productivity from your teams, with greater dynamism and commitment levels about being a part of getting things done.
  • Greater alignment among team members, often resulting in increased cross-enterprise collaboration beyond the project.
  • Faster, more accurate identification of potential failures and problems and understanding of what to do about it.
  • Far greater accuracy of your ability to predict what the team will actually do and the likely scale of outcomes.
  • Enhanced visibility of the sustainability leader’s effectiveness across the organization leading to further internal endorsements and support.
  • Better quality of life and enhanced confidence for the sustainability leader in meeting the expectations of their role and achieving progress through internal teams.

Sustainability leaders that lead effective internal teams are the catalysts that move everyone forward faster with meaningful results for all.


How To Get Started

Our approach for engaging with each client begins with a no-obligation initial consultation and a needs assessment. Based on each client’s situation and the unique nature of this work, we may progress through several framing sessions before formalizing an engagement. This ensures clarity of scoping and a shared understanding of risks, assumptions, variables and the timing of the work.

To get started on this process, please fill out the form below.


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