Mary Ethna Black: Imposter syndrome, and what to do about it
The most challenging aspect of leading change at board level is often the ‘people’ side, starting with some of the discussions we have inside our own heads – the ones that prevent us from taking action. We might call this ‘Climate Leader Imposter Syndrome.’ Here are some common concerns and how you might reframe them, in a ‘thought’ and ‘response’ format.
Thought: I am not an expert in climate change
Response: This is a journey, so consider yourself an emerging expert. All you need to know is where to find useful information, how to judiciously deploy this, and how to ask the right questions.
Thought: I am unprepared
Response: You are already better prepared than most. You are engaged with the topic, engaged with this blog, and have, I hope, signed up to Chapter Zero. The rest will follow.
Thought: I may generate antagonism and resistance
Response: You may indeed, but as a well-rounded NED, you already have a toolbox and prior experience to prevent this happening or deal with it when it arises. Apply the basic principles of change leadership.
Thought: I’m already ‘out there’ in terms of gender or diversity.
Response: I completely understand, having been ‘The (Token) Woman on the Committee’ myself. Climate and biodiversity is very linked to gender and diversity, so my best advice is to weave it in, and whatever you do, don’t apologise.
Thought: I don’t want to become the board ‘Climate Bore.’
Response: Who does? We know that single issue NEDs are rarely useful, we also know that issues around change require a whole of board and team effort, so your mission is really to enlist and promote board support, with facts, well rounded arguments, and positive examples.
No-one wants to demolish the climate or destroy biodiversity, but the responsibility for carbon reduction is often passed around or avoided. It can be unclear where responsibility lies (Individual? Government? Someone else?). Your first responsibility as a NED is to understand that you are responsible for guiding and influencing your organisation. Your second is to do something about it.
What do I do right now?
- If you have already joined Chapter Zero (it’s free), encourage at least one other board member to join too.
- Fill in the Chapter Zero Board Scorecard to help you assess where your board is currently at and help you identify the best questions to ask in the boardroom.
- Sign up to ‘Plans beyond pledges: a three-step impact programme for risk management and value creation in the boardroom’ - an in-person event series for Chapter Zero members.
- My next two-minute read will address inspiration and the power of positive stories. It will launch in late May
My next two-minute read will address inspiration and the power of positive stories. It will launch in June.
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Our Fellow’s Perspective series shares the views and expertise of the climate and business leaders who are the Chapter Zero Fellows.Read more about our Fellows
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