Archive for Developing leadership

How to move Investment Capital to Sustainable Technologies

Upon reviewing an article from the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) and based on studies from the (IEA) International Energy Agency on the needs for energy in global development, one issue became crystal clear; that without investors feeling the need to move their funds toward Sustainable Technologies and Sustainable companies, there would be insufficient capital to keep up with growing global energy demand. While this causes a major problem for “developing” countries, it also causes a major challenge to move towards sustainable energy in “developed” countries. Note that I have added the quotes because, in a world that is being injured by much of the development we have experienced, one may question the long term efficacy of the whole notion of “development” as we currently know it. The term “Developed” in the fullness of time will more likely be something like “mature” and mature has a very different implication. What mature country would continue to destroy it’s own environment? Well, that’s a different topic so let’s move on.

In a quote from the report the author states that “Today private sector investments constitute the largest share (86%) of global investment flows and are expected to be essential to addressing climate change. A large additional flow of tens of billions of dollars will also be needed for adaptation.”

One of the most effective means of a government to weild it’s financial power is to influence the direction of Private Investment Capital. Rather than trying to “be” the investor as in many of the current government incentive scheme’s which directly invest, wouldn’t it be possible to take a different approach? » Continue reading “How to move Investment Capital to Sustainable Technologies”

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Reaching the future together (Leadership, Conflict, Sovereignty and Organizational Culture)

An on-going theme in the world is how countries tend to argue about land claims, especially when resources are involved. Businesses have similar disputes over intellectual property, defense of minerals rights, and other competitive matters. Individuals have disputes over ideas, who is right and who is wrong. Whenever one person or one institution violates the claim or values of another, disputes arise. 

Conflict, by it’s nature, signals a need for change. But underlying the existance of conflict is a deeper and more distressing issue. The fact that we accept conflict as a tool and allow conflicts to flourish signals a lack of maturity in human creativity and development. If not handled with extreme care, conflicts are destructive, either physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, socially or environmentally. The larger the dispute, the more destructive.

What’s worse is that conflicts tend to be destructive long after the disputing parties find a way to stop the dispute. They continue to cause challenges as long as bad feelings linger, until learning occurs, mindsets change and reparations are completed. Some disputes unfortunately last centuries.

But there are better and more creative solutions that using conflict to find solutions. Let’s look at a few impacts of conflict and consider alternatives. » Continue reading “Reaching the future together (Leadership, Conflict, Sovereignty and Organizational Culture)”

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Climate Change impact on Business Leadership and Planning

As we watch the news of enormous red dust clouds over Arizona and Australia due to record drought, the discovery of the record melting of Icebergs in Greenland at a rate that the IPCC models failed to predict, record temperatures being set in northern and western Canada, record flooding in Atlanta which is sweeping people and vehicles away and  record wild-fires in California all at the same time, in addition to the recent first time ever passage of a commercial German vessel through the north east passage without an icebreaker, along with record flooding this year in Taiwan, Burma, and Vietnam, if there was any doubt left that we are experiencing climate change, there certainly isn’t anymore. And anyone who believes that it’s not caused by human activities simply isn’t accepting reality.

The question now is, how will the world be impacted and how will businesses respond? Although there is still far too much rhetoric, even the world leaders at the UN Summit on Climate Change preceding the Copenhagen meeting, most notably Obama noting that “the old habits, the old arguments are irrelevant”, are beginning to speak seriously about the issue. Even China, which understandably refuses hard targets in the light of excessive energy usage and emissions from developed countries, is taking a leadership role in developing solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

 The question is not about whether changes in business will occur: the question is, what will drive business the most? Will there be sufficient agreement on policy and limits at the global or national government levels or will the change in the earth’s environment itself be the greatest imputus for business to adapt and what will that mean for business? » Continue reading “Climate Change impact on Business Leadership and Planning”

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What does Education contribute to Leadership?

One of my favourite quotes is one that speaks to the value of education in bringing out the most in people:

“Regard man as a mine, rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can alone cause it to reveal its treasures.” – Baha’u'llah

Whenever we look at an individual with the view of helping them to become leaders, education is a key. Why? Because, while someone may have natural talent in influencing others, or specialized skills that they can share, they still need to learn and understand concepts of leading. Among other thing, they need to learn empathy, they need to be guided by ethics, they need to learn how to lead people in a direction that will do long term good for the organization, and they need to learn that while having a short term outlook has its place in leaderhip, that it must be balanced with integrity and long term perspectives.

Forging leadership skills is a process, not an event. This process requires continuous education, nurturing, practice and learning from successes and failures. And because newly promoted leaders are also dealing with the lives of others, they need to learn how to be sensitive to the results that they create in the lives of others and how those impacts may be signaling problems with their own skills. Being defensive won’t solve their issues.

For example, while it is reasonable that a leader may periodically call upon certain staff members to work overtime on occasion, habitually calling upon them to do so generally is likely a signal that certian skills are lacking. They may lack planning and estimating skills or the skills necessary to communicate to their own superiors that their teams are over-loaded. They may also may have resources who are undertrained or they may lack stragic planning skills which will help them to periodically stop their own work to look at the situation from a broader perspective. Look at the larger perspective will help them to eliminate unnecessary tasks or process steps.

Education is a key in learning and advancing leadership skills, attitudes, concepts and habits, and knowing that a candidate is likely to continuously strive to advance themselves is an important criteria in the selection process.

All the best,

Garth Schmalenberg
Phone: 416-919-6598

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Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Index Initiative

According to a report by Environmental Leader, Wal-Mart will be announcing a new sustainability index initiative for rating the sustainability of products that it sells. The initiative will include other retailers, researchers, universities and suppliers and possibly go so far to look at entire life-cycle of the products with the goal to reducing or eliminating non-sustainable products. Also according to the report, while they plan to start the initiative, they also plan to hand it off to a group yet to be formed to ensure neutrality in reporting and rating. » Continue reading “Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Index Initiative”

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Impact of the economic crisis on renewable energy and other environmental issues.

A question was asked in April on one of the leadership forums about the impacts of the economic crisis on Renewable Energy suppliers and other environmental concerns. At that point, most answers were speculative. Now we have a little more insight and these are my answers to the questions that were posted: 

  1. How will this crisis affect the renewable energy industry?
  2. Will the possibility of creating green jobs surpass the additional cost that a customer would be able to afford to have clean energy?
  3. Should environmental consciousness prevail?
  4. Would governments change their commitments by reducing incentives to renewable energy in a moment that tax payer money has more important uses?
  5. How would a renewable energy company adapt to this market of lower capital and possibly much lower revenues? » Continue reading “Impact of the economic crisis on renewable energy and other environmental issues.”

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Tips on Changes in Organizational Culture

Change of Culture is something that only happens over a period of time, with a desire to make an environment that is different than the current environment. But there are some tips that will make the process easier.

» Continue reading “Tips on Changes in Organizational Culture”

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Sustainable Development (SD), Value Creation and the Capital Markets

Following a meeting of the CBBF (Canadian Baha’i Business Forum, Dec 2008) where Dr. Blair W. Feltmate, Director, Sustainable Development, OPG, spoke passionately about the move toward SD (Sustainable Development) as a philosophy for future governance and business management, I knew that as an Executive coach and leadership trainer, I couldn’t ignore the subject of Sustainability with any of my future clients.

As Executive Coaches, we go to our clients with their agenda in mind to help them focus on what’s working for them, what’s not working for them and what they consider to be important development factors for leading their organization forward. But as former executives we also know something about running a business. The senior coaches I work with including my Associates go into organizations with much more than just life coaching skills. They have practical business leadership experience. We do all the standard coaching activities; working with assessment tools, workshop facilitation, assisting in goal setting, helping clear limiting beliefs, assisting in team development, improving relationship skills and developing leadership’s consultation and communication skills. But we also have our own business experience to share and are capable mentors as well as coaches. We utilize the skill of questioning, but we can also provide in-sight and mentoring when it is necessary.

After hearing Dr. Feltmate’s presentation, I realized that not incorporating SD into my skill set and business model would be a disservice to my clients. » Continue reading “Sustainable Development (SD), Value Creation and the Capital Markets”

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Leadership Lessons from CEO of Northwater Capital Management – David Patterson

(Re-published from April 17, 2008)

My recent ventures took be the the annual meeting of the CBBF (Canadian Baha’i Business Forum) where I was previously honoured with the opportunity to serve as a member of the board. The CBBF is an organization which promotes the principles of:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Sustainable Development
  • Gender Equality in the work place
  • Value Based Leadership
  • Ethical business practices
  • Consultative Decision making
  • A New paradigm of work

One of our invited speakers for the CBBF Annual conference was David Patterson, CEO of Northwater Capital Management, an asset management organization with $8.5 Billion under management which specializes in handling large investments such as pensions and utilizes it’s “market neutral fund of hedge funds”.

The conference theme was “Doing Well by Doing Good: an application of Values Based Leadership”.

David was understated and yet inspirational in his presentation and shared a number of concepts that were divergent from standard organizational theory.

He shared the notion that doing good for the whole system (world, community, organization and family) rather than self focus was strongly encouraged in his organization. The fundamentals of his approach – what’s good for the system is good for the individuals in the system and not necessarily the other way around. While it is difficult to accurately articulate his presentation, as much of it was supported by images of the Northwater working environment and it’s employees participating in world supporting and family events, he also based his assumption and methods on the success that his organization has acheived by using this approach.

In addition to the support of world and community, the company encourages open consultation through the elimantion of status based work spaces, even David has the same desk as other employees, and they frequently call random members into consultations to get alternate points of view.

David’s talk should be one of those talks presented at the TED conference where new and inspirational ideas are presented in many fields of endeavor. There are many companies that could benefit from his leadership model.

Garth Schmalenberg
Executive / Relationship Coach

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Interviewing CEO’s and Executives on Sustainability success strategies

One of my recent initiatives involves interviewing CEO’s, executives and sustainability officers about sustainability strategies that have worked for their organizations and the challenges they face in making cultural changes.

My goal is to use this blog ( and my leadership development practice to share information with business, organizational and municipal leaders who are concerned with the creating a more sustainable world and more sustainable organizations but who don’t know how to start, or those who are already walking the path but need some guidance and encouragment, (i.e. someone to ”walk with them”) as they begin to make changes and apply innovative new ideas.

Sustainability is about more than just being friendly to our planet. We can be more friendly to our environment just by not driving our cars but we cannot keep our stomachs full and our economy rolling by not driving cars. Sustainability is about taking a pragmatic approach to creating a world that is productive and ever-advancing. In involves creating a world which provides for the needs of all earthly inhabitants now while ensuring that the future is also secure.

My hope is to attract business leaders who are looking for better ways to work which will lead to greater stability and better use of human and material resources while improving their ROI. By working together and sharing ideas, we can improve our businesses, improve our leadership practices, think more creatively about solving challenges, and create progressive business environments which effectively utilize and respect the world’s people and resources.

As I conduct the the interviews with leaders who have developed sustainability strategies my goal is to share both their challenges and successes. After interviews are completed, I will write articles to share this learning and experience with readers and I will invite positive feedback and helpful comments and suggestions.

If you are an Executives, business owner or municipal leader who has taken noteworthy initiatives or if you know someone who has taken actions to benefit the community or the world, please contact us. I hope to speak with as many of you as possible.

For more information on this initiative, please contact me (Garth Schmalenberg) at 416-919-6598.

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