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Leadership lessons from a leader expert
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Leadership lessons from a leader expert

A man in jeans and a jacket kneels next to a small tree that's lying on its side in preparation for being planted. Several other ready-to-plant trees are in the background.


Humans don’t take advantage of our most important evolutionary advantage, the unique ability to look ahead and make positive changes in the future.

Exhibit A: Climate Change is Here, and things are changing quickly for the worse. Despite the increasing severity and cost of severe and dangerous weather events, we continue to be prepared. still don’t do what we need to do.

Everyone should try to make the climate more sustainable. How can everyone help in the most effective ways? As a professor of organizational behaviorI am interested in leadership and proactive problem solving. These fields offer some useful advice.

Untapped human potential

“I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do,
so I leave it up to you.”
– Alvin Lee, Ten Years After, 1971

If too many people think like that those lyrics, problems don’t get solved.

Societies can only be successful in reducing climate change by refusing to accept passiveness, experimenting with new strategies, tactics, and wisely strengthening their coping capabilities.

People are reluctant to do much about climate change. many reasons: 1) They worry about time and cost; 2) they believe it’s difficult to change; 3) they have faulty assumptions, like feeling unable to help or that other people or new technologies will save the planet; 4) they have psychological biases, like caring more about the present than the future; and 5) they’re uncertain about the best ways to participate.

Building a foundation for higher impact action starts with changing our mindsets. It is essential to act more proactively than most people up until now.

How to become more proactive

Here are some starting points based on research into organizational and psychological behavior.

1) See yourself as someone who cares about the future and the planet.

Your self-identity describes how you see and describe yourself. corresponding behaviors. How you self-identify will help you to think about your future and choose the actions you prefer. provide a motivating standard or model to strive for. Take “caring” a step further by viewing yourself as a proactive person who thinks ahead and helps to make the future better than it would be without your contributions.

A man in jeans and a jacket kneels next to a small tree that's lying on its side in preparation for being planted. Several other ready-to-plant trees are in the background.

One way to get involved locally is to plant and care trees in useful places.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

2) Evaluate honestly your efforts to reduce the negative effects of climate change.

The same way people tend overestimate their driving and athletic skills, they also tend believe they are more skilled at leadership. more environmentally friendly than mostOthers. This misleading bias can lead to complacency and slow down action.

People will be able to see their potential and make a positive difference if they are honest about how they feel. You can unleash that potential by using time management strategies from business management. These strategies can free you of many unpleasant and unproductive tasks and enable you to be more productive. devote attention and time to impactful activities that take most advantage of your skills.

3) Take on more responsibility for solving the climate change problems.

Feeling responsible motivates action. The key question is how do you define responsibility?

This is different than putting all the blame on the worst transgressors. Blame game fossil fuel companies have worked hard to shift responsibility for the world’s climate change predicament to consumers and not themselves. Remember this from George Bernard Shaw: “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” What the future holds really is up to us.

A cyclist rides over a bridge with metal girders.

Nathan Phillips, a Boston climate scientist bikes with a backpack device to measure natural gas ejections. This contributes towards climate change.
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

4) Decide to actively navigate the future changes.

In general, thinking more about the future – rather than just the present and past – yields more positive life and work outcomes. It is essential to address climate change. look ahead and act accordingly so you’re helping to forge the best possible outcomes rather than leaving them to chance.

Today’s leading psychologists strongly advise more mental prospecting – actively envisioning likely and possible futures, exploring for opportunities like old-time gold prospectors and salespeople searching for new leads – and continually seeking the best pathways forward.

5) Learn more about humanity’s biggest challenges.

Climate change affects everything, so it shouldn’t be hard to find an arena that’s personally interesting. Learn enoughConsider how your skills can be used to help others. Get information from reliable sources. where you can contribute best.

Here are some places you can start: Project DrawdownOffers big-picture strategies to lower greenhouse gas emissions NOAA offers advice what individuals can doLearn more. The BBC had a good list of 10 simple waysTo take action on climate change a few decades ago. Climate scientist Michael Mann’s new bookDiscusses what individuals and groups can do to have the greatest impact.

6) Help find solutions to problems and constructive opportunities.

One common refrain in MBA and executive programs is to turn problems into opportunitiesClimate change presents many opportunities. These include cleaner energy sources, better construction techniques, and improved food production. This approach encourages conversations about long-term changes and not just damage control. It also uncovers diverse views, addresses underlying problems rather than just their visible symptoms and encourages more ideas – thus enhancing problem-solving.

7) Address the root causes and embrace “multisolving.”

In solving business problems, it’s important to not simply treat the most visible symptoms but to identify and address root causes. “Multisolving” identifies solutions that address a root cause of multiple problems.

Climate change is a root cause of many current problems. This includes food and water scarcity, wars, and disasters like species extinctions. Military officials often refer to it as a “threat multiplier.” Stopping climate change could help alleviate pressures elsewhere. Supporting further in the cause-and-effect chainCarbon emissions are responsible for global warming and climate changes.

So, personal efforts to reduce your “carbon footprint,” like using less fossil fuel, help. So does pushing politicians and businessesTo reduce carbon and methane emissions, limit fossil fuel extraction and invest in zero-carbon energy.

The best climate solutions will reduce the harm and spread all sorts of benefits. Stabilizing the climate requires all of our support. It isn’t just an “all hands on deck” moment – the planet needs all heads and hands being proactive.

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