4 tips to leverage EQ as a leader

4 tips to leverage EQ as a leader

Original publication in Forbes, October 17th, 2019

The Western world has largely been shaped by an admiration of logic versus emotion. Yet as humans, it’s impossible to operate with just one or the other. In today’s world, where artificial intelligence and digitization rule, many leaders and organizations are expected to adhere to a new social and environmental way of thinking, a more human way of thinking. Qualities like empathy and sensitivity, which used to be viewed by many as weaknesses, are now often seen as strengths. Emotional intelligence (EQ) has become more than a buzz phrase — it’s now a widely practiced tool embraced by progressive executives to increase their companies’ bottom lines and improve corporate culture.

I see the benefits of EQ every day in my work with executives and teams. Over the course of my career as a therapist, I’ve learned that many of the interpersonal skills we use to strengthen our personal relationships are the same skills needed to fuel success in the workplace.

However, the questions remain: How did we get here, and are we prepared for what’s to come?

The Origins Of EQ

Great philosophers like Aristotle studied the effects of emotions, what triggers them and how to deal with them. Aristotle is believed to have once said, “Anyone can become angry — that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” This statement demonstrates an early understanding of EQ, yet this way of thinking didn’t take off until much later. In fact, it wasn’t until around the 1980s that companies started to take notice of the effects of a positive work culture on employees. During this time, Reuven Bar-On, a clinical psychologist whose assessment tool I’m certified to use, began studying the answers to two questions: What makes people successful, and what makes people happy? The results of those studies started a journey of conceptualizing, researching and applying EQ.

Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term “emotional intelligence” in 1990, defining it as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” Salovey and Mayer worked together to clearly define and measure the effects of EQ, which piqued the interest of larger corporations concerned with hiring and retaining top talent.

Clinical psychologist and author Steven Stein, who co-founded a business that publishes computerized psychological assessments, also contributed to the study and spread of EQ. In 1994, he met Bar-On, who asked him to publish his EQ assessment tool. Today, many coaches (myself included) use this tool in their work with clients.

Later, Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of EQ and helped spread the idea throughout mainstream culture.

The Modern And Future Leader

Today, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a leading company that doesn’t have a focus on EQ. Organizations all over the world have turned to EQ to help them hire, promote and develop their employees. They recognize that a positive work environment can help attract top talent, drive employee engagement and affect profitability and performance — and the right leaders understand this too.

Leveraging EQ

The modern and future leader integrates the realms of both logic and emotion. They leverage EQ in a way that goes beyond gauging how employees are feeling and toward successfully navigating complex business situations. They can nurture our strengths rather than pick apart our weaknesses. They create and foster meaningful relationships with a multigenerational and diverse workforce. And while they’re no less focused on strategy and competition, the modern leader operates with adaptiveness, compassion and mindfulness.

Here are some tips for how to leverage EQ as a leader.

• Practice self-awareness. Take stock of how you feel and react to certain stressors throughout the day. Notice how your emotions contribute to your actions. In order to understand the emotions of others, you first have to be in tune with yourself.

• Listen carefully. This is surprisingly difficult for some leaders. It can be tempting to think that listening is merely following rather than leading. However, in order to make and sustain more meaningful connections and tailor communication styles to the right people, learn to become a better listener.

• Be open and embrace conflict. A good leader is willing to problem-solve and dive into disagreements rather than run away from conflict. A leader with a high EQ level is much more likely to problem-solve effectively, rationally and with a certain level of poise and composure.

• Make culture a priority. Purpose-driven leaders understand what engages and excites employees and work to cultivate an environment that fosters their creativity and engagement.

Living In The Present And Learning From The Past

Today, smart leaders are driven by opportunities and the future rather than by the past or their egos. They might learn valuable lessons from past triumphs, but they don’t attempt to preserve the status quo. Instead of worrying about looking good or staying consistent, stay vigilant and on top of future trends, and don’t be afraid to embrace the flow of new ideas.

Written by Roberta Moore

Wellbeing at work: CEOs are getting it but struggle to find the right solutions

Wellbeing at work: CEOs are getting it but struggle to find the right solutions

Originally publicated in Benefits Pro on October 2nd 2019

Nearly all CEOs in a recent survey say they feel some form of isolation in the workforce, and they recognize that this is a concern for their own well-being and work.

CEOs are getting it: employee well-being matters.

So say 25 top executives, who responded to a qualitative survey by LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell.

“Employee well-being ranks number one, because your organization is only as good as the people that you have working for you, and their well-being determines how successful or unsuccessful you’re going to be,” says one respondent, Michael Colucci, CEO of Idilus LLC, a professional employer organization.

A CEO from an engineering firm responds: “I don’t believe that customers should come first, I believe that employees should come first. It’s a tenant at my company. It is a cornerstone of my company to have happy well-adjusted employees.”

Well-being programs are also becoming table stakes to attract and retain talent, especially younger generations. One CEO says that “employee well-being programs are becoming more of an expectation rather than a perk.”

The importance of employee well-being also impacts the bottom line, the respondents add.

“If my employees are unhappy or they’re going through whatever stresses that they are encountering at home in their personal life, they bring that in,” another CEO says. “If you have a big team environment that we work in…it can cause absenteeism. People who aren’t focused at work, it creates delays with projects so things get backed up at work.”

The respondents are also candid about their own struggles with significant work stress, though many say they are successful in “compartmentalizing that anxiety” – and hiding any signs of it from employees because of the “contagious nature” of workplace stress. As a result, nearly all of the CEOs say they feel some form of isolation in the workforce, and they recognize that this is a concern for their own well-being and work.

But that masking may not really be working after all, some concede.

“I’m sure they feel it when I have stressful situations because I put that back on them,” one CEO says. “They can tell by your disposition, you create a level of anxiety within the team concept that we have at our place and that affects them adversely because it makes them feel anxious or unsure about what’s going on maybe, within the corporate structure.”

While a majority of the respondents measure the success of their well-being programs using metrics such as retention of employees, satisfaction in their role and employee engagement, most of the CEOs agree that a comprehensive employee well-being index would be helpful to measure the level of employee engagement within the programs.

“Employee wellness is increasingly critical to business success and at the top of the agenda for many CEOs and even board members,” says Paula Allen, Morneau Shepell’s vice president of research, analytics and innovation. “But executives still struggle with methods to properly execute and evaluate that support. LifeWorks is positioned to address these concerns.”

By Katie Kuehner-Hebert 

Regenerative business calls for new leadership qualities. Great read (10 min)

Regenerative business calls for new leadership qualities. Great read (10 min)

Originally published in Medium.com on October 1st 2019

In a recent meeting of the Business Roundtable, “the CEOs of nearly 200 companies just said shareholder value is no longer their main objective”. Given the dominant paradigms of endless growth and shareholder profit at any cost, the articulation of this sentiment from prime business circles is a shift indeed. Of course, it needs to be seen whether this is only talk or is it backed by commitment and intention. Nonetheless, it is proof that we have reached a point of stagnancy and exhaustion with our old models and structures. There is no further benefit to be gleaned from them. In fact, clinging to the old ways is now proving to be chaotic, cataclysmic, and even apocalyptic.

In a deeply complex, inter-related and interconnected world, every single thought we have, each decision and action we take has far-reaching impact — often beyond our ability to comprehend. And this is multiplied manifold when the actor is a large organization. Hence, it is time to change the underlying narratives, metaphors, and consciousness that are driving today’s organizations. This requires a complete reinvention and re-designing of the fundamental organizational principles, ethos, and purpose — the very raison d’etre of organizations must shift. New strategies, technologies, and processes superficially affixed on top of the existing paradigms and worldviews will not work. The old debilitating and destructive patterns will creep in through the backdoor, under different names and guises. The shift from maximizing shareholder profit to the well-being of all calls for an awareness-based, conscious transformation toward building life-affirming, regenerative, and thrivable organizations.

In this post, I have attempted to explore some of the key dimensions and facets of the leadership quest that this shift is asking of us…


We are at a transformational moment in human history — on the cusp of a profound transition from an Industrial Growth Society (IGS) to a Life-Sustaining Society (LSS). The breakdowns on multiple fronts are heralding the destabilization of the old order. The system is literally self-terminating. And as Arundhuti Roy says so eloquently, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” Joanna Macy calls it The Great Turning. What we are collectively experiencing as decay and disintegration, disequilibrium and dissolution are the death throes of an old-world order.

In the face of this destabilization, our organizations and leadership must become amplifiers and compasses for another world — one which is built on the principles of thrivability for all and not only for a handful of the rich and powerful. Michelle Holliday describes “thrivability” thus:

In practice, thrivability is about identifying and committing to your organization’s own best means of enhancing life’s ability to thrive. And it’s about aligning with life’s core operating patterns across every aspect of the organization.

Is the idea far-fetched? I don’t think so. Is it necessary? I can think of no other purpose for the existence of an organization in today’s context. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. It will require each and every one of us to operate from and aspire to our highest selves, to reclaim our essential humanity lost to years of conditioning, and to push back against the forces doing their utmost to drag us backward. As Umair Haque says,

“Organizational leadership today means building an organization that is a model for the world it hopes to create. That models — demonstrates, displays, shows, exemplifies, for all to see — the better world that it hopes to spark.”

However, our current organizational paradigms and business models reward ruthlessness, aggression, cunning, competitiveness, authoritarianism, and an overarching “what’s in it for me” attitude. Unfortunately, these very traits strip us of our innate humanity and purpose, which are imbued with generosity, gratitude, compassion, courage, joy, love, and meaning. These qualities find little place in our organizations today — or lurk and hide in corners, afraid to reveal themselves for fear of ridicule, contempt, and condescension. This has created workplaces that are devoid of purpose, possibilities, and promise. People are literally ‘Dying for a Paycheck.’

Given this backdrop, I have used the phrase “leadership quest” deliberately. I believe leaders, and each one of us, have to “undertake a journey toward actualizing our highest future potential” in the service of a thrivable and regenerative world. And this quest will see an unfolding of pioneering and regenerative leadership principles and ethos necessary to build a life-sustaining society…. It is a quest, a journey of human evolution, a collective awakening of consciousness that is already taking place across the world in many shapes and forms.


We are at a unique stage in human history where technology and human consciousness are evolving and growing rapidly and exponentially. Their intersection — if put in the service of the well-being of all sentient beings and our Planet — can have an astounding impact. And our organizations can become platforms and holding spaces for The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. Wouldn’t that be a worthy quest for all?

The inspiration for this post came while reading Jenny Andersson’s summary of the Connectle webinar on Regenerative Leadership 2  Becoming Imaginal Cells: Co-Creative and Collaborative Leadership for the Future. As I read, a few thoughts arose that I have tried to capture here in relation to regenerative leadership, the leadership quest, and Leading in Uncertain Times.

Pathways for a Leadership Quest

Nurture imaginal cells. Underneath the chaos, disintegration, and disarray apparent across the board lies the DNA of a new order waiting to be manifested. And what is to be birthed bears no resemblance to the old. Just as the caterpillar bears no resemblance to the butterfly, and yet holds the key — the imaginal cells — for its own metamorphosis. In the same way, the key — the imaginal cells — of regenerative, anti-fragile, and thrivable organizations are hidden within this collapse and chaos.

They are to be found in the shapeshifters, the wayfinders, the edge-dwellers, and the norm-breakers within our organizations. These individuals bear the seeds of a different narrative and the visions for an emergent future which is life-sustaining. They carry the possibilities of breakthroughs amidst the breakdowns. Regenerative leadership calls for an ability to identify and nurture these imaginal cells within the organization, to support their endeavors, and protect them from the onslaught of the status quo.

These individuals will often come across as fearless and bold contrarians, and the natural tendency will be to resist and fight them, to try and eject them from the system, to sideline them. The dominant status quo can be a formidable force. And this is precisely where leadership comes in — it will be the job of leaders to nurture and protect these people, to ensure they can grow, connect, and collaborate till a tipping point is reached. Once these wayfinders form clusters, and clusters of clusters, we can be sure that we are on the brink of a transformation.

Goto the edge of the system. The explorations and experimentations typically take place at the edges of a system. The edge is an interesting place; its very fluidity fills it with possibilities. It is also where two or more ecosystems come in contact with each other and give rise to interesting phenomena, like the mangroves (where the sea meets the land). Similarly, the edges of an organization are where the seeds of its next stage of evolution can be found should the leaders care to look.

A leader’s task is to be a bridge between the edge and the center — not to diminish the burgeoning potentials of the edge but to infuse the center with its spirit, vision, and energy. As more and more edge practices find their way into the center, the old patterns embedded at the core start to loosen and dissolve. With the releasing of the old ways, new practices, mindsets, and beliefs take root, transforming the organization. As Bucky Fuller said,

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Recognize the power of intention. This is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of regenerative leadership. A leader’s intention is the North Star that guides an organization towards becoming a regenerative business. It is about holding onto the vision of a life-affirming organization, and then putting it in practice. It involves not only recognizing that an organization is a living system but also following through with life-sustaining ways of being and doing. (I have been writing about these shifts in my earlier posts — Leading in Uncertain Times and Leading in Uncertain Times: The Journey Within.)

No amount of re-engineering, reorganization, and re-training will work if the fundamental intentions and consciousness are still rooted in the past. In short, the foundations of a thrivable organization cannot be built on profit maximization. The inner conditions of leadership have a profound impact on the outer reality. Only when leaders stay steadfastly true to the purpose of the organization, uphold its capacity to be a regenerative and healing force, and take actions and decisions rooted in their intention, can they propel an organization to move to its next stage of evolution.

Create conditions for emergence. Emergence is a fundamental property of living systems as they adapt to their constantly changing environment. When we move from the metaphor of “organizations as machines” to that of “organizations as living systems,” it is easy to understand why creating conditions for emergence is important. Emergence in organizations takes place at the intersections of relationships — their divergence and their synergy. Synergy arises from maintaining and facilitating a fine balance between agency and symbiosis among diverse and different individuals for something fundamentally novel to arise. This means that diversity and inclusion are pre-conditions for emergence, and it behooves leaders to design for this.

One of the foundational qualities of regenerative leadership is then to create and safeguard an inclusive culture based on embracing widely divergent worldviews, perspectives, and even paradoxes. Holding space for emergence is an active process of staying in the liminal space, listening deeply, engaging all our sensemaking capacities, and staying open to the “magic in the middle.” Leaders who can lean into the emerging future are the ones who create magic in the face of chaos.

Go beyond collaboration. Collaboration has become an increasingly important aspect of 21st century’s boundaryless, distributed, and fluid workplaces. Individuals and teams collaborate across borders to pool expertise, accomplish a set of pre-defined goals, and share learnings. I am proposing that in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity, we need to move beyond collaboration. Collaboration works when the path is known, an outcome is defined, and solutions are clear.

But when there is no path and outcomes cannot be predicted, then it is time to go beyond collaboration and embrace co-creation — a process of manifesting what is wanting to come through; giving shape to the emergent future by staying present, curious, compassionate, and courageous. Leaders need to become enablers and connectors — balancing divergence with synergy, facilitating the letting go off familiar outcomes, and holding the space for collective co-creation toward an ‘evolutionary purpose.’ This act of collective sensemaking requires deep trust in oneself, in the process, in human potential, and practice in Presencing. It should be a central part of today’s leadership quest to cultivate one’s capacities to create the conditions for co-creation.

Make life-affirming decisions. Organizations today can hardly be called life-affirming. They abide by and are driven by systems and policies that have turned them into profit-making machines at profound cost to their people and Planet. We are in the midst of a crisis that is beckoning us toward a different future possibility — one characterized by harmony, balance, resilience, and generativity. The purpose of the leadership quest today will be to make this potential a possibility. This will require leaders who are self-aware, mindful, and operate from a conscious understanding of the inter-connectedness and interbeing of everything. Without this felt sense of inter-relatedness, they will not be able to make life-affirming decisions.

The process is neither easy nor linear. It is an inner quest as well as an outer one. Leaders will be faced with infinite paradoxes and ambiguities, forces which will compel them to play by the old rules, and circumstances which will cloud their vision. However, by holding on to the overarching intention to be life-affirming, they can still act as stewards and facilitators of life. As Daniel Christian Wahl says in the context of regenerative leadership:

“Re-patterning the future regeneratively requires the transformation of the whole playing field, the redesign of our economic system and our monetary system, and — ultimately — the collective redesign of the human presence and impact on Earth.”

In conclusion, I believe that we are at a point in our evolutionary history where we are collectively being called to listen to our deepest truths as human beings, as stewards of life, as imaginal cells of the future, and to direct our intentions, thoughts, and actions toward co-creating a life-sustaining society.

“Thrivability emerges from each of us holding the persistent intention to be generative: that is to say, to create more value than we consume.” ~Jean M. Russell

Written by Sahana Chattopadhyay

The 5 criteria that define a “just cause” by Simon Sinek

The 5 criteria that define a “just cause” by Simon Sinek

Originally published on Simon Sinek website.

A significant part of feeling value beyond our compensation is working on something bigger than ourselves.

Everyone has a vision or a mission statement. But we lack a standard definition of those terms, using the same words in different ways. This leads to more confusion than cohesion, both internally with our people and externally with our stakeholders.

So let’s throw out the words and start over. Words must be simple to be understandable. They must be understandable to be repeatable. And if they are repeatable then they will spread.

In our founder Simon Sinek’s upcoming book, The Infinite Game, we put forward a new term: advancing a Just Cause.

A Just Cause is linked to our WHY, our noble purpose for being. Our WHY comes from our past—it is our origin story and it is who we are. Our Just Cause is our WHY projected into the future. It describes a future state in which our WHY has been realized. It is a forward looking statement that is so inspiring and compelling that people are willing to sacrifice to see that vision advanced.

There are five criteria to have a Just Cause. It must be 1) for something, 2) inclusive, 3) service oriented, 4) resilient, and 5) idealistic.

For Something

It serves as a positive and specific vision of the future.

While being against something may be effective in rallying people, it doesn’t inspire and it won’t last. A Just Cause is what you stand for rather than what you stand against.

Inclusive

It is open to all those who wish to contribute.

A Just Cause attracts people from diverse skillsets. Too often visions and missions are tied to a specific product or activity. If your stated purpose is about the technology or sales, for example, then it is mostly designed for engineers or salespeople. Everyone else who is not an engineer or salesperson may feel like, or even be treated as, second-class citizens. A Just Cause inspires all to make their worthwhile contributions and feel valued for it.

Service Oriented

The primary benefit of the cause has to go to those other than you, the contributors.

For example, if you go to your boss for career advice, the expectation is that the advice you receive will benefit your career. If your boss gives you advice that benefits their self interests, they are not service oriented. This extends to organizations, leaders and investors. The products and services an organization develops must be designed to primarily benefit their customers, not the company itself. If you are a leader, your leadership has to benefit the people in your span of care. And, if you are an investor, the investments you make have to benefit the company with which you are investing. Of course, you can expect a return on your investment, but it must be of secondary benefit. The primary benefactor of the investment is the recipient, not the investor.

Resilient

Be able to endure political, technological and cultural change.

Again, if you define your Just Cause based upon the prevalence of particular technology or a specific product and there is a market change, your Just Cause will not last.

Idealistic

Big, bold and ultimately unachievable.

It’s not about becoming the biggest, the best or number one. It’s not about reaching some arbitrary revenue target, even if it is huge. It is about pursuing something that is infinite—for all intents and purposes you will not ever attain it. It is, indeed, a vision and not a goal. And as you make progress toward that better future state you imagine, you will be able to feel and measure your momentum. A Just Cause is an ideal. It is something so noble that we would be willing to devote our lives and careers toward advancing it. And, when our careers are over, the Just Cause can live on and serve to inspire further progress; that can be our legacy.

Most people and organizations do not write good vision or mission statements, not because they are bad people, but because we do not yet have a standard definition or guidelines. We are hoping that this framework helps you cast a Just Cause that inspires people for the long run. And, remember, it is the leader’s job to ensure people feel a part of something—not that they simply have a part in something. Inspire your people, and they will inspire you.

Written by Stephen Shedletzky

Capitalism transformation is urgent! How can organisations step up to the environmental challenges?

Capitalism transformation is urgent! How can organisations step up to the environmental challenges?

Original publication in economist.com on September 19th 2019.

From one year to the next, you cannot feel the difference. As the decades stack up, though, the story becomes clear. The stripes on our cover represent the world’s average temperature in every year since the mid-19th century. Dark blue years are cooler and red ones warmer than the average in 1971-2000. The cumulative change jumps out. The world is about 1ºC hotter than when this newspaper was young.

To represent this span of human history as a set of simple stripes may seem reductive. These are years which saw world wars, technological innovation, trade on an unprecedented scale and a staggering creation of wealth. But those complex histories and the simplifying stripes share a common cause. The changing climate of the planet and the remarkable growth in human numbers and riches both stem from the combustion of billions of tonnes of fossil fuel to produce industrial power, electricity, transport, heating and, more recently, computation.

All around us

That the changing climate touches everything and everyone should be obvious—as it should be that the poor and marginalised have most to lose when the weather turns against them. What is less obvious, but just as important, is that, because the processes that force climate change are built into the foundations of the world economy and of geopolitics, measures to check climate change have to be similarly wide-ranging and all-encompassing. To decarbonise an economy is not a simple subtraction; it requires a near-complete overhaul.

To some—including many of the millions of young idealists who, as The Economist went to press, were preparing for a global climate strike, and many of those who will throng the streets of New York during next week’s un General Assembly—this overhaul requires nothing less than the gelding or uprooting of capitalism. After all, the system grew up through the use of fossil fuels in ever-greater quantities. And the market economy has so far done very little to help. Almost half the atmosphere’s extra, human-made carbon dioxide was put there after the turn of the 1990s, when scientists sounded the alarm and governments said they would act.

In fact, to conclude that climate change should mean shackling capitalism would be wrong-headed and damaging. There is an immense value in the vigour, innovation and adaptability that free markets bring to the economies that took shape over that striped century. Market economies are the wells that produce the response climate change requires. Competitive markets properly incentivised, and politicians serving a genuine popular thirst for action, can do more than any other system to limit the warming that can be forestalled and cope with that which cannot.

This special issue of The Economist is not all about the carbon-climate crisis. But articles on the crisis and what can be done about it are to be found across all this week’s sections. In this, our reporting mirrors the world. Whether it is in ensuring a future for the Panama Canal or weaning petrol-head presidents off their refinery habit, climate is never the whole story. Other things matter to Manhattan stockholders and Malawian smallholders. But climate change is an increasingly dangerous context for all their worlds.

To understand that context, it is important to understand all the things that climate change is not. It is not the end of the world. Humankind is not poised teetering on the edge of extinction. The planet itself is not in peril. Earth is a tough old thing and will survive. And though much may be lost, most of the wondrous life that makes Earth unique, as far as astronomers can yet tell, will persist.

Climate change is, though, a dire threat to countless people—one that is planetary in scope if not in its absolute stakes. It will displace tens of millions, at the very least; it will disrupt farms on which billions rely; it will dry up wells and water mains; it will flood low-lying places—and, as time goes by, higher-standing ones, too. True, it will also provide some opportunities, at least in the near term. But the longer humanity takes to curb emissions, the greater the dangers and sparser the benefits—and the larger the risk of some truly catastrophic surprises.

The scale of the implications underlines another thing that climate change is not. It is not just an environmental problem alongside all the others—and absolutely not one that can be solved by hair-shirt self-abnegation. Change by the people who are most alarmed will not be enough. What is also needed is change in the lives of those who do not yet much care. Climate is a matter for the whole of government. It cannot be shunted off to the minister for the environment whom nobody can name.

And that leads to a third thing that climate change is not. It is not a problem that can be put off for a few decades. It is here and now. It is already making extreme events like Hurricane Dorian more likely. Its losses are already there and often mourned—on drab landscapes where the glaciers have died and on reefs bleached of their coral colours. Delay means that mankind will suffer more harm and face a vastly more costly scramble to make up for lost time.

Hanging together

What to do is already well understood. And one vital task is capitalism’s speciality: making people better off. Adaptation, including sea defences, desalination plants, drought-resistant crops, will cost a lot of money. That is a particular problem for poor countries, which risk a vicious cycle where the impacts of climate change continuously rob them of the hope for development. International agreements stress the need to support the poorest countries in their efforts to adapt to climate change and to grow wealthy enough to need less help. Here the rich world is shirking its duties.

Yet, even if it were to fulfil them, by no means all the effects of climate change can be adapted away. The further change goes, the less adaptation will be able to offset it. That leads to the other need for capital: the reduction of emissions. With plausible technological improvements and lots of investment, it is possible to produce electricity grids that need no carbon-dioxide-emitting power stations. Road transport can be electrified, though long-haul shipping and air travel are harder. Industrial processes can be retooled; those that must emit greenhouse gases can capture them.

It is foolish to think all this can be done in ten years or so, as demanded by many activists and some American presidential hopefuls. But today’s efforts, which are too lax to keep the world from two or even three degrees of warming, can be vastly improved. Forcing firms to reveal their climate vulnerabilities will help increasingly worried investors allocate capital appropriately. A robust price on carbon could stimulate new forms of emission-cutting innovations that planners cannot yet imagine. Powerful as that tool is, though, the decarbonisation it brings will need to be accelerated through well-targeted regulations. Electorates should vote for both.

The problem with such policies is that the climate responds to the overall level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not to a single country’s contribution to it. If one government drastically reduces its own emissions but others do not, the gallant reducer will in general see no reduced harm. This is not always entirely true: Germany’s over-generous renewable-energy subsidies spurred a worldwide boom in solar-panel production that made them cheaper for everyone, thus reducing emissions abroad; Britain’s thriving offshore wind farms may achieve something similar. But it is true enough in most cases to be a huge obstacle.

The obvious fix will be unpalatable to many. The un’s climate talks treat 193 countries as equals, providing a forum in which all are heard. But three-quarters of emissions come from just 12 economies. In some of those, including the United States, it is possible to imagine younger voters in liberal democracies demanding a political realignment on climate issues—and a new interest in getting others to join in. For a club composed of a dozen great and middling-but-mucky powers to thrash out a “minilateral” deal would leave billions excluded from questions that could shape their destiny; the participants would need new systems of trade preference and other threats and bribes to keep each other in line. But they might break the impasse, pushing enough of the world onto a steeper mitigation trajectory to benefit all—and be widely emulated.

The damage that climate change will end up doing depends on the human response over the next few decades. Many activists on the left cannot imagine today’s liberal democracies responding to the challenge on an adequate scale. They call for new limits to the pursuit of individual prosperity and sweeping government control over investment—strictures some of them would welcome under any circumstances. Meanwhile, on the right, some look away from the incipient disaster in an I’m-alright-Jack way and so ignore their duties to the bulk of humanity.

If the spirit of enterprise that first tapped the power of fossil fuels in the Industrial Revolution is to survive, the states in which it has most prospered must prove those attitudes wrong. They must be willing to transform the machinery of the world economy without giving up on the values out of which that economy was born. Some claim that capitalism’s love of growth inevitably pits it against a stable climate. This newspaper believes them wrong. But climate change could nonetheless be the death knell for economic freedom, along with much else. If capitalism is to hold its place, it must up its game.