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Courage and difficult conversations – how are you showing up as a leader in the climate crisis?

As our work revolves around growing the capacity of transforming, conscious leadership beyond of what we’ve seen in organisations historically, taking a stance in actively responding to the climate crisis cannot be left outside of our attention. Much of the transforming leadership capacity boils down to being able to keep several perspectives in our attention simultaneously. In the context of climate crisis, we must show up and advocate the change today, to nurture and protect the world we want to leave for the future generations tomorrow. During the past months, the Amara associates Kirstin Irving and Annette Hennessy have been thinking carefully about how we could help people to step into the challenge and work generatively with the many dilemmas that are thrown up. This blog is a result of an inspiring conversation between Maria Lehto and Kirstin Irving, diving deeper in the issue of climate crisis from a leadership perspective and finding out how you can join us in building a more beautiful world we know to be possible. 

While we have been fed information about climate crisis for years and years, it’s only recently that we have personally started to notice its effects on our lives. Simultaneously, the associated nock on effects have become more and more evident, unfolding year by year, in a worst-case scenario leading to various forms of social collapse. “It’s going to be completely inescapable and there are obvious moral imperatives as well as straight forward business imperatives to pay attention to it”, Kirstin explains. 

Since there are countless people in life threatening situations around the world who truly cannot spare a thought on the climate crisis at the moment, we in the more fortunate situations should. How are you choosing to meet this moment as a leader? What is it that you value in life and how do you show up in a way that aligns with those values?

How are you as a leader choosing to meet this moment?

In leading the change, much of the hard work is about how do we initiate difficult conversations. “That’s what we need to get good at as leaders”, says Kirstin and continues that this can be achieved in many ways “Some of it is about personally taking a stance, some of it is about skill of engaging. And undoubtedly the skill of listening so everybody’s voices can get heard.”

Given the seriousness of the situation that we are currently facing, there is a sense that whatever we do, personally or professionally, is never going to be good enough. As Kirstin explains, this can lead to paralyzing dynamics of shame and judgement, ultimately holding us back from facing the issues and truly making a change as individuals and leaders in our communities. Many of us have had very high carbon footprints in the past, with or without a level of awareness, and coming in terms of the destructive patterns we have engaged in can be difficult. 

Each of us has been involved in the systems and practices that have led to destroying the natural world and we have gotten so used to them and become so reliant on them that seeing them as destructive can be challenging. But as Kirstin explains, as soon as the scales drop from your eyes and we start to have an understanding that we have set ourselves up in a way that has guaranteed the destruction of the natural world, that’s the clarifying moment. Here is where the courage comes into play. What do you choose to do?

We consider ourselves to be decent human beings and surely none of us wants for this to be happening, yet inevitably to some extent we have been complicit in it. So while we have to come into terms with giving up things that we are used to having and doing, the experience of taking an active role in preventing the worsening of the climate crisis can be liberating, Kirstin explains. 

Each leader, while guiding their organisations to a post- Covid world, can either choose to build back in a way that rehearses and reinforces the old ways or build back in a way that truly springboards us, using this moment of crises to radically reimagine how life can be. We can see this moment as a possibility to repattern life and work and we should reach into that repatterning as best we can. 

We can see this moment as an urgent call to repattern our lives, creating the more beautiful world we know to be possible 

We are each on our own paths and at different levels of readiness to step in and change our ways. “And a lot of it is relinquishment”, Kirstin says, and continues “we do actually need to give things up, that’s absolutely clear. This crisis cannot be solved by us continuing to consume at the level we are used to consume at”. She underlines that if anything, facing this challenge requires courage on an individual level “we are each being invited to connecting with what do we truly value and how do we behave in a way that aligns with our values.”

While everyone might not yet have found their way of making the difference they want to make, we believe that people deeply care. This is why Amara has joined the Countdown initiative, to open a safe space and a platform for individuals to connect and start having a conversation about what might be their ways of stepping in. As the Countdown initiative is a collaboration between TED and Future Stewards, it beautifully combines inquiry and action, by bringing together TED’s high-quality speakers and “ideas worth spreading” with the very concrete call to action to cut down greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030. 

The TEDxTöölö event, sponsored by Amara, took place on 23rd November at 7pm EET, and served as a starting point for the conversation about our own role as leaders in our communities, reacting to the climate crises. While the issue of climate crisis can feel daunting and overwhelming, we believe that it’s possible to do this work in a joyous, nourishing way.

In my experience its absolutely possible to find true joy. You might be working on really tough subjects in community with others but there’s some magic that happens when we come into connection, human being to human being

Kirstin Irving

We warmly welcome you to engage in conversation with us about the ways in which we can all use our leadership capability to contribute to a more beautiful and healthier world.