Over the last few weeks, I have begun to ponder on leading during uncertain times. Here in the UK, it was beginning to feel like living in the tropics. The green grass has become like straw. Mini fires were breaking out because of the dry ground. The bugs were everywhere having a field day due to the heat. The beaches were filled with sun worshipers ignoring the instructions not to be out in the sun between certain hours. I watched one newscaster invite a medic to demonstrate how best to apply sun-blocking lotion (to the amusement of some of our Australian counterparts).
As there were talks about climate change and us having to get used to this new phenomena, a ghastly thought crossed my mind. What if this is it? No more downpour? The rains withheld? As absurd as this may sound its happened to other countries, why not us? Once the novelty of a tropical summer had worn off and there is no return to the British downpours, what will life in the UK be like then? I tried to imagine the impact on our landscape, our population, our lifestyles, our industries. Leading during uncertain times will require being taken out of our comfort zones personally and professionally to grapple with these changes and its impact on those we lead. We all assumed that at some point it must rain. However, it dawned on me that there is a danger we take such things for granted.
Role Modelling Leadership
During our heat wave in June and July 2018, we began to see signs of the country quaking under the heat. Leaders in health and industry modeled the importance of continuing regardless. The Emergency departments were struggling due to increased demands caused by sun related ailments. There were affects on the farming industry, the water supply, etc. I for one was over the moon at the sounds of thunder and the wailing wind and rain. Yes, it came during my holiday break, but I have never been so happy to see the downpour.
Leading the Change
What the heck has this to do with leadership and life in the 21st century? A lot! It will mean us leading during uncertain times as heaven knows the full extent of what the climate changes will bring. I believe we are living in a time when what we considered to be the norm, and what we have in the past taken for granted, is about to change! Looming over us is the possibility that the next heat wave is likely to be for longer, and the next longer than that. Its fine if you love the heat and do not mind the lack of a cooling breeze to make it bearable. I’m sure those traveling underground on the Central Line train did not appreciate temperatures hitting over 30 degree Fahrenheit.
So… we know that at some stage the climate in UK will change. If the rain doesn’t show up, as leaders we will simply have to be: