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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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The fog is clearing and the clock is ticking

Every few weeks there is a media flurry over the issue of climate change. Is the planet really heating up and are we to blame? The way these stories are reported it is often, for the average citizen who is not an expert in these complicated matters, hard to know what the truth is. But thankfully this is beginning to change for two reasons. First there are many more well-informed people commenting on the debate and translating the complex science into something comprehensible and secondly social media outlets can bypass the confusing spin that such an issue can attract in the mainstream media.

The result is we are becoming much more informed about what is really happening with climate change. For example, recently an open letter from 70 fund managers and investors was sent to 45 leading fossil fuel companies and simultaneously published on the internet. These hedge fund managers supervise six trillion dollars’ worth of assets, so they are a significant financial force in the global investment community. Their letter expressed a concern about the fact that the planet is moving away from fossil fuels and asked what the companies in that sector are doing about risk management of their potentially ‘stranded assets’. Their argument was that we have enough oil reserves for next 10-15 years. With advances in wind, solar and nuclear energy provision, we may not need fossil fuels beyond that time. We could continue to dig oil out, at great expense, but there won’t be a market for it – hence ‘stranded assets’. Such was the scale of this risk for the fund managers, that they wrote this open letter to the fossil fuel companies to say that they, the fund managers, might not be able to buy stakes in energy companies who had not managed this risk. They claimed the impact of such mismanagement could be a catastrophic loss in the value of the fossil fuel companies triggering a crisis of a similar scale to the banking crisis. As yet there has been no response from the fossil fuel companies

The flow of information today is such that many more people know what’s going on. This is especially true of the climate debate. There is a strong consensus among academics that some players are deliberately obfuscating the reality of climate change because it serves them to do so. The book, Merchants of Doubt by Naome Oreskes and Erik Conway, provides a fascinating insight into how a just a handful of scientists can obfuscate the truth; in particular they look at tobacco and oil. In the climate change debate, we see the same kind of phenomena – people are deliberately trying to confuse the debate. Scientists are underestimating the risks of climate change because it could be carer limiting to be too negative. In the bonus chapter of my book (available free from:, when you buy the book) I quote David Wasdell who suggests that the trajectory we’re on is worse than most mainstream scientists are admitting. The planet is heating up 300 times faster than at any other time in the history of our planet.

These voices are starting to be heard – the hedge fund managers have clearly heard them. The United Nations will shortly publish its paper on climate change and what they think the planet’s position is. The obfuscators are ready for this UN paper. One source of disinformation is planning to release its own report prior to the UN report – evidently trying to obfuscate the truth.

The thing is that the days when corporations could pull the wool of the public’s eyes and vested interests could distort the agenda are gone. It took 50 years to prove the case against tobacco industry that smoking causes cancer, but it won’t take 50 years for the truth about climate change to come out.

In fact, really smart companies are already changing their behaviour based on the truth about climate change and other world issues and they are looking at something called ‘triple bottom lining’. The triple bottom line takes into account costs that aren’t currently being measured, such as environmental impact or social costs. Currently most businesses are not looking at the real costs of labour; they are just going to places they can get people cheaply. At some point there will be a green tax for all companies and there may also be some kind of social tax – triple bottom lining will come in at some point.

In fact Bloomberg is already training analysts into how to look at these triple bottom-line stats – they know it will come at some point soon. The issue is that big business is, at present, still largely ignoring this agenda. But it will become increasingly important, especially to the reputation of big business. In the same way as tax avoidance has become a reputational issue climate change and social impact will become an increasingly important issue. The clock is ticking and the public are watching.

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Dr Alan Watkins

Alan is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance. He has a broad mix of commercial, academic, scientific and technological abilities.


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