Mini the Minx and authentic leadership

from south bridge“We need more Mini the Minxes”.

That was, rather unexpectedly, how the Scottish Government’s Workshop on Climate Change Leadership started on Monday morning.

We need more people who see the glass half full, energetic people who are willing to go out there and cause mischief in a positive and hopeful way. ‘Our leaders need to be filled with hope’ was the message – after all, it’s hope that’s going to drive this movement and the change that we want to see, hope is our fuel and it’s the most renewable of them all.

As the day went on, the workshop continued to surprise me – but hope and leadership remained a common theme throughout.

In talking to people whilst up in Edinburgh and hearing about the progress that’s being made on carbon reduction in Scotland, it struck me that they’re working in quite a different landscape. There seem to be far fewer events like Monday’s workshop, with perhaps less polish and shine than in London (where you could easily fill your days and nights with an endless string of sustainability conferences), but the results speak for themselves. Scotland is leading the way in terms of carbon reductions – they achieved an impressive 29.6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2011, topping the EU-15 charts.

The expression ‘less talk, more action’ springs to mind.

This ethos was strongly demonstrated through the workshop, the second half of which was focused on the need for behaviour change and authentic leadership. Rather than just talk about how we can be more authentic leaders, we actually got on and did it.

In the final session, we all went around our tables – tables occupied by senior leaders from across government and industry, and I mean senior leaders – and discussed the changes that we would make in our personal and business lives to show that we are committed to change and are walking the talk. We had everyone from the facilitators to the Environment Minister making pledges to do everything from initiating ‘dress up Friday’ in their office (where everyone wears an extra layer and the thermostats go down) to getting on a bike for the first time in 40 years, eating less meat to taking their kids to school on the bus.

One person was overheard saying “I don’t understand – what’s the relevance of these small actions when we’re talking about leadership and national carbon targets?” The response was clear and simple: we need to walk the talk and show that we believe in what we do in order to be a leader. By doing this as individuals we will earn more respect and admiration from our colleagues and teams (as was strikingly apparent when one department head pledged not to take any more domestic flights for work), and as organisations we will be more authentic and trusted by the public. That’s true leadership.

Not only this, but seeing the real impact that these small changes can have in our own lives is the best way to sow the seeds of hope, and through that hope we can become our own Mini the Minxes.

Throughout the event participants were invited to make their own personal pledges on The DoNation. See the pledges and add yours here.

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