Gone are the days when ESG was advanced from within by a band of social advocates braving the current of traditional business thinking. ESG has penetrated our collective psyche and entered the business bloodstream. In many organizations, it informs every strategy, every activity, and many executives are now expected to craft plans as to how their domains will advance it. CIOs are no exception.\n\nIn crafting yours, you face a choice about the type of ESG leader you\u2019ll be. Typically, we see two personas. We call the first the \u201cOps Maven;\u201d the second, the \u201cCommunity Champion.\u201d The former tends to focus on internal efficiencies\u2014cutting waste, stemming emissions, and the like; the latter, on improving the health, wealth, and wisdom of the community outside the company grounds.\n\nThe ideal is to embody both personas. Both are vital to ESG in the way that both costs and revenues are vital to profit. Yet it\u2019s understandable why many executives gravitate toward that of the Community Champion: Everyone wants to drive an initiative they can point to evidence of in the real world and say, \u201cI did that.\u201d Many of our clients want the same.\n\nIf you, too, seek to embody the Community Champion, start by figuring out what initiative you\u2019ll undertake. Choose wisely. Probably, you\u2019ll have to stick with it for years and motivate others to help you drive it. You might also consider each of the following as you brainstorm.\n\nPartnerships. ESG is an act of collaboration\u2014among governments and peoples, businesses and ecosystems. So why go at it alone? Of the most inspiring initiatives we\u2019ve seen, almost all call on some partnership. Sometimes that partnership is significant but singular, such as the one between Johnson Controls and Harris County, which will see emissions at Houston\u2019s NRG Park cut by forty percent by 2030. In other cases, the partnership is one of many small partnerships. Such has been the case in the The American Connection project, in which hundreds of companies, convened by Land O Lakes, are working to bring Wi-Fi to rural America. Consider your own partners. Could you embark on some ESG initiative together? What about with your city, your county, your state?\n\nThink \u201ccircular.\u201d Circular economies are especially impactful, in part because they draw on the virtues of both Mavens and Champions. A circular economy is, technically, \u201ca model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible.\u201d But think of it as using waste to create something new, often something different. SmartWool, for example, uses recycled socks (not just theirs) to make dog beds. Of course, it could approximate your core products, too. Kohler sells collections made entirely from recycled materials\u2014a model conceived in its incubation unit, WasteLab.\n\nPlay to your strengths. Don\u2019t fixate, too soon, on specific ESG criteria. You\u2019ll restrict your thinking. Instead, consider freely how your company\u2019s expertise might serve your community. What issues do you care about? What problems haunt you? Be precise. Be personal. The more precisely and concretely you can define the issue, the more creative the solutions you\u2019ll think of. Don\u2019t say, \u201cthe environment.\u201d Say, \u201cThe nature preserve across town, where people have been dumping trash for years.\u201d How can your company thwart the dumping? And would thwarting it serve your company\u2019s vision? Its purpose? Its strategy?\n\nChoose among many ideas. If you have many ideas, you might identify a winner simply by calling for a vote among your employees. At the very least, you\u2019ll see what your employees don\u2019t care about: equally critical data. Rank the remaining ideas against two other dimensions: your company\u2019s enterprise goals, strategic or ESG, and any additional criteria you would like to fulfill, such as Commercial viability, Waste Reduction, Partnership, or Brand Impact. See what themes emerge.\n\nFinally, inspire. When you take these considerations together, you see how vital inspiration is, an observation corroborated by even cursory research: Thirty-four percent of Gen Zers would take a pay cut to work for a company whose ESG strategies align with their values. Forty-five percent would accept less work-life balance. For Millennials, the numbers are thirty-nine and forty-three percent, respectively.\n\nWe live to be inspired, and in the long run it may be our ability to inspire others that makes the biggest difference, quantifiable or not. Not only does that quality set apart leaders from their peers, perhaps launch them to the c-suite; it transcends industry, winning not just awards but hearts, and elevates us all to a healthier existence.