Trying to write something inspiring as we get to work in 2021 is like trying to come up with a fresh pep talk to a boxer who has survived15 rounds only to find out the fight’s just begun.
Right now, most people cannot see rallying around the fresh start that a normal new year offers. As an industry, we are beaten down and exhausted from low energy prices, an economy in peril, an enduring pandemic, political upheaval, and an increasingly hostile public. While 2021 promises eventual relief — whether widespread vaccine use or political certainty — that relief right now seems just out of reach.
Most people don’t have what this new year is demanding. But we as leaders do.
We’ve done it before, rallying to lead our companies and communities consistently when others have needed us: to answer the call to rebuild infrastructure after a storm, or to provide human power, PPE, and financial resources in an acute health crisis.
And now we must rally for our own survival in the face of so many enduring disruptions.
We will because we must. We must invoke that scrappy, all-the-power-lines-are-down spirit that comes naturally for our communities when they need us. We must rally to meet disruption with our own disruption. To reimagine our role in the energy future — despite tremendous political forces saying we are no longer necessary.
If it was easy, everyone would do it.
But everyone won’t. In fact, many oil and gas companies won’t survive this decade. Today’s Both True is written for those of you who will. Those leaders, companies, workers who will change the game in 2021.
Both of these things are true:
- The world needs oil and gas industry leadership more than ever before.
- There are growing oppositional forces to our success that we must engage proactively, positively and successfully.
This year was made for the leaders among us who are daring and dynamic, unlimited by their political identity, and grounded in their enduring values. 2021 requires above all a personal commitment to transcend the oppositional forces both within and without. Here’s what’s coming in hot:
- Climate, climate, climate. Investors and policy makers have made it perfectly clear that addressing climate will be imbedded in U.S., Canadian, and European action for years to come.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion. The nascent hopes of 2020 will move into full swing in 2021 with companies articulating specific expectations of everything from portfolio companies to permitting conditions.
- Political isolation. In the absence of a sustained nonpartisan or bipartisan strategy, oil and gas companies will increasingly find themselves on a political island. The public no longer trusts us, and we have to earn a place in their hearts by joining with them to build the energy future.
- Millennials in the driver’s seat. The oldest millennials turn 40 in 2021, and we can expect the decision makers outside our companies to increasingly be dominated by this generation. Our management structure and external-facing leaders must meet and reflect the diversity and mindset of this generation.
- Economic and health recovery. To meaningfully build trust, oil and gas companies must be central to the rebuilding of our health and economy, emerging as civic leaders with our eyes to the decades ahead.
Seize the day:
Preparing for 2021 today is about the individual decision each of us must make to rise to the opportunity that 2020 has left us. This is what is required to meet the moment ahead:
- Transcend your limiting political identity. This sounds easy but requires a rare self-knowledge. Whatever your political persuasion, we must rise above political tribalism to again and again choose leadership, embrace disruption, and initiate engagement to build the energy future. This is the only path that moves forward. Set down your political baggage and meet the moment with humility and fresh eyes.
- Take on climate. If you, or your company, continue to make half-hearted acknowledgements about the primacy of climate in the social and political moment, you might as well say adios to your role in the energy future. Decide to take on climate clearly and boldly. As a society, we can address climate change faster, better, and more affordably with oil and gas not only on board, but leading the way. Individuals and companies will either be on the right side of history, or history.
- Commit to your own DEI growth. Our personal work on racial reckoning will never be done. Decide in 2021 to face the awkward prospect of personal growth, learn more, and do better. You will make missteps; we all will. But like climate, racial reckoning will happen in a wave of participation where our leadership can meaningfully tip the scales toward equity.
- Engage the millennials and Gen Z in your work and life. Resist the urge to be the crank in the room. With so much talent, energy, and enthusiasm around us, we must embrace and harness all the gifts our emerging generations offer. If you are a millennial, take on a Gen Z’er and figure out how hard it actually is to be the old person in the room. Then give a Boomer a hug.
- Take a look around. This year,2021 needs all of us. In whatever capacity we serve, serve we must. Working to transcend politics, embrace the long road to racial equity, engage on addressing climate … these are all things we can each work toward some part of every day. And in doing so, we lead.
Adamantine is supporting our clients in taking on 2021 with vigor! Reach out to me for a strategy consultation about how we can help your company.
I want to hear what you think about what’s required of us — and of you — for changing the game in 2021. Email and tell me your courageous plan. If this post was forwarded to you, you can subscribe here.