Heifetz and Brown would talk about leadership during a time of crisis. Heifitz would suggest that because the changes required of people during a long-term crisis are adaptive in nature, the leadership tasks would be extremely difficult, as adaptive changes require people to go through significant discomfort as they find ways to deal with new problems. Adaptive challenges also take a lot more time to solve than technical solutions, and leaders will have to ask people to endure considerable conflict while new solutions are worked out over time. The solutions to how we will live with diminishing resources and in a different climate are not ones that will come easily.
Brown would suggest to Heifetz that these leaders are not, by and large, the current political leaders. Brown has little faith in international leadership and processes, and is concerned that the solutions will either take too long or never happen at all if we are waiting to be given solutions from international climate summits. It is questionable whether Brown has any interest in leadership at all. I did a search for the word “leadership”, and it appears only 13 times in the entire book. Brown is concerned primarily with technical solutions to the complex ecological system challenges ahead.
Of course, both adaptive and technical of solutions will be needed to meet the coming challenges. Some countries will be able to face these adaptive challenges more gracefully than others. Japan displayed astounding adaptive behavior during the tsunami and earthquake disaster earlier this year. This ability is rooted deeply in cultural values and experiences. The US, by contrast, seems to be working itself into a frightening frenzy as we approach the next presidential election and the issues at hand are increasingly serious, suggesting that the more dire things get, the worse we will act. How will we, as a country, face these challenges?
Brown, Lester. (2009). Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to save civilization. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Heifetz, R., & Linsky, M. (2002). Leading with an open heart. Leader to Leader, (26), 28-33.
Laurie aka Duck, MBA 2013