World congress call for greater flexibility and action on climate change

Responsible leadership requires a change of gear and shift of focus

Business leaders are in danger of being regarded by their children and
writers of their obituaries as self-absorbed talkers and complacent
ditherers if they do not act on climate change according to Prof Colin
Coulson-Thomas. Speaking at the World Congress on Leadership for
Business Excellence and Innovation, the author of Winning Companies;
Winning People pointed out: “Recently thousands of children walked out
of school to campaign for action to address climate change. The
consequences of our inaction will really bite in their lifetimes. Why
are we trashing their futures? Leadership should be concerned with
giving a lead and providing direction.”

The Adaptation chairman finds: “Some boardrooms seem like bunkers in
which people hunker down and hope for the best as storms of change and
opportunity rage outside. Some directors who rarely meet customers and
investors defend their inaction by saying the timing is not right or
that stakeholders are not yet ready. With climate change, if we wait
for other people to catch up we may condemn our children and
grand-children to a future of scavenging in dumps of our rubbish while
dealing with extreme weather events.”

Coulson-Thomas also finds: “Too many boards interpret building a
resilient business as ensuring the survival of current activities
rather than creating a more sustainable business model. They view
certain technologies as disruptive of existing approaches rather than
as enablers of new possibilities. They react rather than initiate and
become victims rather than beneficiaries. They also lack a systems
perspective and do not see the interconnectedness of events.”

The professors investigations reveal: “Transformational leadership is
more often mentioned than effectively practiced. It implies
transformation from one state to another, during which requirements,
situations and priorities can change. Restructuring, re-engineering
and transformation can be lucrative for those who advocate them and
are hired to pursue them, but as I have set out in a series of reports
there are more affordable, quicker and less disruptive routes to high
performance organisations.”

Coulson-Thomas explained; “Before restructuring, re-engineering or
transformation can be completed, original goals may already be out of
date. More flexible, imaginative and relevant strategies are required
such as reinvention, intelligent adaptation or the adoption of a new
model of organisation and operation such as the flexible network
organisations I have advocated for over 25 years. They can expand and
contract, evolve and grow organically as required. Leadership needs to
span boundaries and such networks of relationships to facilitate
collective responses.”

The professor finds: “Innovation is also more talked about than
actively embraced. The risk aversion of many boards, their desire to
protect existing positions and practices, and their fear of
uncertainties associated with genuine innovation result in them
becoming obstacles to change. The Managing Intellectual Capital to
Grow Shareholder Value investigation I led revealed that many areas of
intellectual property with the biggest potential were not being
managed. Some companies could be many times larger and more valuable,
if their IP was exploited by licensing, franchising or a different
business model. They are held back by the lack of imagination of their

Coulson-Thomas believes: “Agility is an issue because many
organisational and board structures, strategies and practices are
inflexible. Unexpected events happen, yet many boards remain tied to
monthly meetings and annual calendars of business. They use a cycle of
strategy analysis, formulation and implementation that does not
reflect the reality of the contemporary business environment. Many
financial measures of performance overlook missed opportunities or the
exponentially rising future cost of the consequences of delays.
Responsible and transformational leadership requires a change of gear
and a shift of focus to the innovations we need to address certain
challenges that threaten to overwhelm us and create and seize
opportunities to build a sustainable future.”

The professor was speaking on transformational leadership for an agile
and innovative corporate strategy at the 29th World Congress on
Leadership for Business Excellence and Innovation which was held at
the Hotel Habtoor Palace, Dubai (UAE).  Prof. (Dr) Colin
Coulson-Thomas, Adaptation chairman, President of the Institute of
Management Services and leader of the International Governance
Initiative of the Order of St Lazarus, has helped directors in over 40
countries to improve director, board and corporate performance. An
experienced chairman of award winning companies and vision holder of
successful transformation programmes, he is the author of over 60
books and reports and has held public appointments at local, regional
and national level and professorial appointments in Europe, North and
South America, Africa, the Middle East, India and China. Details of
books and reports summarizing his investigations can be found on:

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