Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred
Carl Sagan, Astronomer
Let us tell you a story…
“It was a standard day in the office when the storm came. Everyone was sent home a little early to avoid anyone getting stranded, so fortunately no-one was in the office when the trees came down nearby. They took down some power cables too and the power supply was cut off.
It took a few weeks for the power supply to be reconnected fully and in the meantime temporary generators were brought in to keep things going.
Aditi is the person in the office who people turn to when something new emerges that needs new thinking and she happily took the lead in tackling the problem. Immediately she was assessing the damage and what the opportunities to resolve the challenge would be and quickly realised that the generators were going to be costly in the short term. She also noticed they ran on diesel fuel and that got her thinking.
Not long before she had come across an article about business resilience and now the business was struggling to keep up the usual high level of customer service as the generators weren’t providing a fully reliable source of power.
Aditi started to do some research about alternative power options and found that some areas had improved their resilience by developing local energy initiatives using a range of different types of renewable energy source. She was inspired and set about investigating the possibilities for the estate the offices were in.
It wasn’t long before she had compiled a business opportunity for the tenants on the estate to work together to develop a small solar farm with battery storage to benefit both the financial and environmental aspects of all the businesses.
Until that project Aditi hadn’t been working on sustainability issues, the business is a law firm and thought their biggest opportunity was all about recycling paper. As a result Aditi has developed her leadership skills, learnt the complexities of setting up renewable programmes and also identified a project that benefits the business by reducing costs and their carbon footprint.
Recently local clients have started approaching the firm for support in developing similar projects, bringing growth from an exciting new market.
It would have been very easy to overlook the opportunity as the firm believed they had everything they needed and it was a chance event that encouraged them to look into new options. They hadn’t considered whether new opportunities were emerging for them to diversify and build their market.”
OK, Aditi and the firm are fictional, but the circumstances and the opportunities are potentially very real. The behaviours Aditi displayed in the story are inspired by one of the personality types identified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, ENTJ, the decisive strategist. In the story she is a natural leader, assuming responsibility quickly. Her tendency towards extraversion enables her to quickly enquire and communicate to look into what is happening and what is possible in her area. She may well be the first to go and talk to her neighbours and managing agent to discuss what has been happening.
She uses her intuitive nature to analyses and see logical possibilities emerging and quickly determine whether they might be useful to her.
She will then spend time thinking things through, bolstering her knowledge to ensure she has accurate information and can proceed safely. Using her judgement she can critically assess the information and adjust as needed.
People often naturally follow persuaded by confident and fluent presentation of information, and they may get excited by the potential for learning together too.
Sometimes the strengths may come across as abrasive, perhaps even aggressive, and decisions may be made too quickly and other people’s needs not taken into account but in a balanced team this is easily managed.
When we are developing strategy for sustainability initiatives we need the commitment of decisive strategic thinkers to help us to define the way forward. We will also need lots of other personalities in the mix to deliver all sorts of tasks and this is why we are telling these stories to show how everyone has a part to play in creating the change you want in your organisation. Who is your Aditi? How can you support them to help you create your sustainability strategy?
Sandra Norval is Catalicity‘s Managing Director and embraces individuality in her programmes for developing and delivering Sustainability Strategy. Her coaching model The Four Elements is designed to help people to identify their values and strengths and bring them together to find the courage to take action.
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*Please note that Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is administered in the UK by OPP and you should refer to a practitioner if you would like your type indicator assessed. We are using the model for inspiration purposes only.