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Learn from Poor Leadership

Learn from Poor Leadership                                             

By Greg Kozera–

My mother’s mind at age 91 was still sharp. She lived in Pittsburgh and every Sunday night I called her. We had some deep conversations in addition to our light mother and son family stuff. Mom suddenly began to lose some of her sharpness. After a physical she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that was most likely cancerous and terminal. Mom decided not to do any radiation or chemotherapy. We were strictly warned, “No hospitals”. She wanted to die at home and said the treatments would be worse than the disease and would destroy the quality of life she had. Mom passed quietly at home sitting on her porch reading the morning paper in the sun surrounded by her flowers. She knew what she wanted and achieved it.  

When it comes to what we hear about climate change, I feel the same as my mother that the solution (treatment) would be worse than the problem (disease). This past week there were an estimated 4 million people around the world marching in protest to what they believe is a lack of action on climate change. One teenager sailed to the USA rather than fly because it was more environmentally friendly and didn’t require fossil fuels, almost. I commend her for walking her talk. I also noticed her boat wasn’t made from wood. It was made out of petrochemicals from fossil fuels.

Young people have heard about the possible evils of climate change and are concerned about their future. I sense most of them just want the perceived problem fixed. The earth’s climate is constantly changing. The last ice age was 12,000 years ago and most of Ohio was covered with glaciers. I’m still undecided if we can actually do anything to change the climate on a global basis for good or bad. I’ve listened to scientists on both sides of the issue. I do believe we need to take care of the environment. Clean air and clean water are important to us all.

Those who believe we need to reduce CO2 emissions to prevent the planet from warming have done a lot of talking and signing of agreements for over 20 years. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global CO2 levels are UP 43% since 2000. No wonder young people are frustrated. Interesting, USA CO2 levels peaked in 2000. Since then they are DOWN 14%, the largest decrease of any country!

If climate change really is a problem why hasn’t more been done? The reason, as I see it, is poor leadership. People like Al Gore, the current Democratic Presidential candidates, Hollywood movie stars and others propose elimination of fossil fuels will solve all of our problems. A good leader has integrity. They tell the truth. They lead by example. These people want us to drive less, take 5 minute showers, have meatless meals, pay more for electricity and use the internet less. Then they hop on their private jets (built and fueled by fossil fuels) and head to one of their high carbon foot print mansions. The problem obviously isn’t serious enough for them to change their life styles. Maybe if they did what they suggest we do and change their life styles first we might believe them. They could find a different solution that would actually solve the perceived problem.

Great leaders know they don’t need to have all of the answers. They develop their people to be the problem solvers. A great leader is never intimidated by their people’s abilities and success. As a manager, I knew I wasn’t the brightest bulb. When everyone agreed with one of my ideas it worried me. Occasionally I would suggest a really stupid idea just to make sure they weren’t agreeing because I was the manager. For twenty years climate leaders have been touting replacing fossil fuels by wind and solar as the solution to the perceived climate problem and it hasn’t worked yet.

Great leaders encourage others to develop new ideas for solutions and celebrate when their people succeed. A great climate leader would be celebrating US CO2 reductions not complaining because they didn’t use wind and solar to do it. Increased use of natural gas, cleaner coal, lower auto emissions and modern farming methods have all contributed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to the decrease.

The US economy is booming. Industrial jobs are coming back to the United States. Eliminating fossil fuels and the products they make possible destroys manufacturing jobs, modern health care, our ability to feed the world and makes the classroom of 2050 look like the classroom of 1950. Instead of eliminating fossil fuels maybe we should be looking for ways to make them cleaner. To use my mother’s thinking, the solution to a perceived climate issue should not be worse than the problem and destroy our quality of life. 

For business and organization leaders we can learn not to repeat others leadership failures. We need to be people of integrity. We need to lead by our example. We should never be intimidated by our people’s abilities and success. We need to develop a strong diverse team. We need to encourage our people and welcome new ideas that may be different than ours. We should celebrate our people’s successes. Our solutions should never be worse than the problems we attempt to solve. We need to become effective communicators. We can become great leaders if we choose!

Leadership isn’t about what we say. It is about what we do. My wife, Lynnda had knee replacement surgery this week. I have been sending friends and family members pictures of her progress. Lynnda’s positive attitude and hard work post-op are great examples for our children and grandchildren of how to deal with adversity. Her new knee is made with petrochemicals from fossil fuels.

© 2019 Shale Crescent USA

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.