What Bill Gates Didn’t Say

Okay, I get that Bill Gates is a smart guy and can provide some pretty astute advice.

For example, in a recent Fast Company article in an excerpt from his new book entitled How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he presented his case that many of the lessons from the pandemic—and the values and principles that guide our approach to it—apply just as well to climate change.

He summarized these lessons as (1) international cooperation and the need for everyone to work together, (2) letting science guide our efforts, and, (3) solutions that meet the needs of the people who are hardest hit.

Gates, with the guidance of experts from many fields, has provided a clear and well researched book reflecting the causes and effects of climate change. He has also laid out what needs to be done – including a plan for achieving zero emissions and what to do to keep our government, employers, and one another accountable for the change that will be essential.

However, there’s one thing Gates should have stressed. It’s the one thing that stands in the way, and will continue to stand in the way, of looming environmental disaster as well as any other complex issue such as poverty or racism.

What’s missing is a focus on the need for a different kind of leadership. The world and our communities will only get better when our leaders get better. It’s that simple and yet that complicated because it’s one thing to know what to do, and another to be able to mobilize others to make it happen. It will be especially complicated in this case because business, government, and nonprofits will need to work together.

It’s also complicated because many still think of leadership as a title and it is instead far more about behaviour. Everyone needs to be a leader, with or without a title. It’s also clear there needs to be a new set of leadership competencies - often untaught – that will be needed if we are to ensure the shared, interdisciplinary, stakeholder-led, future-focused, and fluid networks that are needed for the transformative change Gates has articulated so well. The emerging Fourth Sector that some have identified as an approach that combines the best of the public sector (governments), private sector (for-profit) and social sector (non-profits) will also need to apply this same future-focused leadership.

So what kind of leadership has, and will continue, to make the world a better place?

We see seven essential competencies that encompass skills, knowledge, and attitudes reflecting learning opportunities that aren’t typically viewed as priorities by those at the top of the pyramid.

Developed by Campus for Communities of the Future and licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Here’s hoping Bill Gates is interested in the missing piece of the puzzle because while having the solutions is a spectacular achievement, future focused leaders are needed if we’re going to make it a reality. 

Posted on 03-08-21

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