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Leadership and the Environment

What is leadership? There are so many self-help books and seminars that define leadership and most agree on one thing: leadership is about having insight and vision. A flock of sheep simply follow each other and may fall to their deaths by following one another in the wrong direction. People who don’t think for themselves are like sheep. They will keep on following others blindly until they fall of a cliff. What humanity has done in the recent past by not taking enough of an interest in the environment is sheep behavior (no offence to any sheep). 

We have followed our elders in the conquest to make money. For generations we have been taught that the main purpose in life is to obtain wealth, the more wealth you have, the more successful you are considered. I am not underestimating the importance of making a living here. I am talking about this idea that money has to be made no matter what.  The main reason that the environment is suffering is human greed and our consumerism. Until now we have organized our society to make, consume, dispose and then consume again. And like sheep we have followed the trend: earn money and then buy stuff. Once you have stuff you must earn more money so you can get more stuff. Luckily humans are not sheep. There are leaders among us who noticed that we are about to fall of a cliff. 

People like Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, the Pope, Leonardo DiCaprio are among those who have stopped following and running and chasing after materialistic things to tell us that, stop, wait, you are making a mistake here, what you are doing is unsustainable. The idea of climate change is not new. It’s been around for decades. So, what’s changed? Well things have certainly gotten far worse than they would have had we acted sooner and even now we are not moving nearly fast enough.  But things are changing for the good as well, more people are becoming aware of environmental issues and trying to make a difference. Then there’s the whole money matter. Even though many countries such as India, Russia and Brazil are not that bothered, other parties such as the U.S., U.K. and E.U. have pledged to put their money where their mouth is. 

In the last decade the thought pattern of the world’s population has shifted. This was all due to activism and leadership shown by many people. It’s extremely important for the youth of today to realize that they have a role to play in what’s to come. The youth must be given a voice and they must use it to condemn the destruction of their collective futures. People can show leadership in all kinds of different ways. 

The leaders of the present are paving a path for the leaders of the future so that they can make a difference. What you can do to make a difference will differ according to your circumstances. Some of us may be in a position to reduce consumerism while others may be able to find innovative solutions to environmental problems and at the very least everyone can contribute to creating less waste. At the end of the day, it’s important for all of us to take responsibility for the future of the planet. 

Those who are not in a position to do something big and visible can still make an impact by making changes in the pattern of their daily lives. Small changes by a large number of people on a regular basis can make a big difference. Leadership is about doing the best you can under your given circumstances. We are not all politicians and activists, but we are all capable of showing environmental leadership. Making small changes to our lifestyle, such as using less plastic, recycling, flying less, wasting less paper and planting more trees transform us from laymen to leaders. 

– Proma Gulshan, Manager, Youth Leadership & Climate Change, Probha Aurora


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