Friday, December 11, 2009

Climate change & COP 15 - Part 2: Leadership crisis

This crisis in trust is closely linked to a crisis in leadership.

A McKinsey survey of global executives found that while three quarters (74%) say the CEO/chair should take the lead on socio-political issues (such as climate change), only half (56%) say the CEO/chair is taking such a lead. What’s more, less than 1 in 10 (8%) think that companies are championing environmental and social causes out of genuine concern.

In the US, almost a third (27%) of executives claim not to be playing any leadership role on public issues like climate change, and only 14% claim to be playing a direct, active role. And yet, almost half (44%) of US executives feel their peers should be taking a leadership role public issues, with only one-seventh believe they are actually doing so.

So much for the numbers; what are the implications for leadership? The same McKinsey survey may give us a clue: Of those who claim not to be playing any role in leadership on public issues, 71% cite ‘business reasons’, while of those who say they are playing a role, 64% cite ‘personal reasons’. This suggests that – in order to have transformational leadership on climate change – we need to look at both the business ‘rules of the game’ and the role of individual leaders.

Interestingly, this conclusion dovetails nicely with the leadership research coming out of academia, which emphasises importance of both the context for leadership and the individual traits of leaders.

Part 3 - The leadership response

... follows tomorrow