How Trump can hit a home run on Paris climate decision

Author: Joseph Holt

Joe Holt 1200
Joseph Holt

CNBC commentary by Joseph Holt, associate teaching professor of management and organization.

President Trump is poised to whiff on the Paris climate accord decision he will make this week, but he could hit a home run instead. He could do that by exercising real rather than fake climate leadership and not only remaining in the accord, but setting a more ambitious, science-based emissions-reduction target than President Obama did.

Hitting a home run will require that the president recognizes both the kind of serious challenge that climate change represents, and the kind of leadership that would be necessary to meet that kind of challenge.

He could turn for insight to Real Leadership: Helping People and Organizations Face Their Toughest Challenges, by Dean Williams of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Williams, Ronald Heifetz and other colleagues of theirs at Harvard emphasize that effective leadership requires distinguishing "technical" from "adaptive" challenges.

Technical challenges can be met through the straightforward application of expertise without making any changes to underlying values, beliefs and priorities. Adaptive challenges are more complex and persist even after you apply the best available insights and methods to it. Meeting adaptive challenges requires the painful work of changing certain long-held values, beliefs and priorities.

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