VOCL 003 – A Day Filled With World-Class Speakers

Twitter Episode 3 – ‘A Day Filled With World-Class Speakers’ In this episode, Chris will summarize the 2nd day of the 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.” Intro Hi there!  Welcome to the 3rd episode of the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast.  If this is the first time that you are listening to this podcast, […]

Written By chris

On April 4, 2013

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Episode 3 – ‘A Day Filled With World-Class Speakers’

In this episode, Chris will summarize the 2nd day of the 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.”


Hi there!  Welcome to the 3rd episode of the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast.  If this is the first time that you are listening to this podcast, welcome!  I hope that you find it informative and thought-provoking.

For those of you who have missed episode 002, I recommend that you stop listening to this episode right now (that’s okay, I won’t get offended).  Episode 002 covers the opening day of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference or GGCLC for short.  Don’t worry – you’ll still be able to access this episode later on (one of the advantages of podcasting over the radio…)  Actually – why don’t you pause this show right now (I’ll still be here when you come back) and tell your family, friends and colleagues (using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Skype, email, phone, etc.) that you enjoying listening to the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast.  You can play a part in growing this community focused on improving the quality and quantity of leaders in Canada.

We will now look at the main topic of the show – the 2nd day of the 2012 GGCLC that was held in Halifax, NS. What is really interesting about the plenary sessions is that, well, all conference attendees saw and heard the same speakers.  What we understood from the speakers was subject to our own personal filters.  As such, please go to www.leadershipcanada.ca and look for the individual study group blogs to get potentially different perspectives.

– Summary of an incredible Day 1

Let’s go back in time!

NB – Day 2 – AM This morning’s journey continued on the path towards leadership and sustainable communities, through the presentation of several interesting viewpoints. The first aspect that was introduced, however, was the introduction of Adrienne Clarkson – it was interesting to see the current and a former Governor General sitting side-by-side. We were first introduced to David Foot (of “Boom, Bust and Echo” fame). He provided a very comprehensive view of the demographics that are affecting communities now, and how they will affect the future economy. The delegates now have some figures to look at based on the averages from the nation, the provinces and territories, cities, and across the globe. It allows us to use demographics as another lens with which to approach the next two weeks. Monique Leroux highlighted the importance of leadership across five main tenets: respect for the person, confidence in people, the ability to listen/learn, adherence to core values, and recognizing the achievements of our people. Leaders must be able to “walk the talk” or, as she put it, “les bottines suit les babines”. Jeremy Hobbs pointed out the importance of collective responsibility in leadership. Several key areas such as cuts to the global aid budget and withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord were used as markers. We need to grow and develop, even if it means working with partners that are not historically “natural”. “Go structural, go global, and go green” Last (but not least) came Linda Silas espousing the importance of healthcare in Canadian communities. There are some critical gaps that have been identified, especially surrounding the caring for the elderly and the First Peoples. There is also a notable gender gap in pay equity – if you can’t afford fruits and vegetables, how do you maintain a healthy environment for children. Clearly, collective health care is key (as is generating sufficient health care staff now for taking care of the future. Leadership is not about doing the minimum; rather, it is about doing the maximum.

NB – Day 2 – PM The morning speakers brought forth numerous concepts at a relentless pace; the afternoon did not offer any respite. Dominic Barton highlighted five mega-trends, namely global rebalancing, the productivity imperative, the global grid, pricing the planet, and government/market state. He reminded us that the world is transforming at a scale and rate faster than before and that with the population of mature economies ageing rapidly, working adults will need to produce more. From a sustainability perspective, resource scarcity is leading to a global race for commodities and a search for alternative resources – the supply/demand gap is increasing especially in water, energy, and food. Interestingly, he proposed that businesses can not assume that government will be able to deal with all of the upcoming challenges. After all, solving some problems takes longer than a traditional political cycle.  Post blog note added by Rebecca Benko – Dominic said that he felt it was important that leaders spend time working in all three of the sectors, public, private and the non-profit sector. I could not agree more. Thanks for the comment Dominic. Peter Tertzakian had a gift for using pictures and artefacts that he has collected over the years to make various points regarding energy across Canada and around the world.  No matter what energy source we have used, demand historically tends to overtake supply. He proposed that Canada IS about natural resources and that we should be proud of that fact. He presented the importance of conservation at every level, including the consumer – what energy you don’t use at the end (bathroom light) results in saving 50 times over at the start (mining). He suggested that one of Canada’s problems is that we have it TOO good – there was raised murmuring (in agreement?) from the crowd. Finally, he suggested that the oil sands is a fragile sustainability, but we can do better – “Lead like you have it all, and don’t take it for granted“.  Finally, we were introduced to Ingrid Srinath of Civicus. Backed by a wide variety of poignant pictures and editorial cartoons, she demonstrated that economic disparity and global governance failures are the key factors affecting the global economy. There is a vacuum at the global level – although there are organizations such as G8 and G20, she challenged the group with the statement that the current state of global governance is actually G0. Civil liberties are being taken away across the world, not just in the 3rd world – penalties for dissent have sharply increased. Even in Canada, companies/organizations can have funding taken away if they dissent from the government’s opinion. The transition requires a new social contract, blurring of sectoral boundaries between government/business/media/social society, roles and relevance determined by purpose and not form, 360-degree governance, new metrics of success, and evolving the global politics (getting away from G0). “We have to be the iPhone instead of the App – we have to provide the mechanism for change.”

Wow- the experience continues to get more and more amazing.  – You don’t often get the opportunity to hear the GG in person; we’re getting two!

David Foot (author and Professor in University of Toronto’s Department of Economics) – I had never read his book, nor have I ever looked at the challenges that Canada faces from a demographics perspective; the news makes more sense now when you look at big cities versus small towns, schools versus senior citizen centres, West versus East, and the promising First Nations demographic.  Entertaining to boot (well over allotted time but no one minded), plus a good insight into the group called the “echo of the echo”.


David Foot

David Foot


Monique Leroux (the Chair of the Board, President and CEO of the Desjardins Group) – the first speaker that really focussed on the tenets of leadership.  I really liked the fact that she reduced them to her top five; although I might have a different list, I certainly could not fault any of her choices.  The way that she formulated her presentation, however, came to influence my efforts over the course of the conference – more on that later.


Monique Leroux

Monique Leroux


Jeremy Hobbs (the Executive Director of Oxfam Canada) – We’ve quickly heard about his beliefs regarding cuts to the global aid budget and to Kyoto accord – I would love to hear his perspectives now that Canada has withdrawn from the United Nations Convention on Desertification (also known as the “Drought Treaty”).


Jeremy Hobbs

Jeremy Hobbs


Linda Silas (the President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union) – passionately complemented David Foot’s data (at least from an ageing population).  As you can likely tell by now, I focus on key quotes – I love her’s about leadership doing the maximum (it really speaks to me)


Linda Silas

Linda Silas


During our lunch break, we once again sat as a group (pretty easy since there were sign cards) – we marvelled at what we had just heard, and couldn’t wait for more!

Dominic Barton (the Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company) – the unenviable spot of being the first speaker after lunch, but he was so engaging that everyone was brought right back into the conference mindset.  Business taking over some of the roles traditionally reserved for governments – I’m not quite certain that I like that idea…  I do love his idea (echoed by Rebecca) that leaders serve time in the three sectors of public, private, and non-profit.  I believe that leaders should have a broad experience base, allowing them to incorporate the best practices from the various fields.  Otherwise, people run the risk of being one-dimensional leaders (i.e., take them out of their comfort zone and their leadership skills seem to fade).


Dominic Barton

Dominic Barton


Peter Tertzakian (the Chief Energy Economist at ARC Financial Corporation) – I recall that John Vicq was very excited to hear him talk, especially with his energy background.  I found Peter to be very interesting, especially due to his focus on conservation.  What I found most interesting though is how the crowd reacted to his statement that we, as Canadians, might have it too good.  I agree – as a nation, we have so much for which to be thankful.  We can become blinded to it, however, just like we can stop noticing the road signs on our morning commute.  It’s only when you go to places such as Haiti that you realize just how good we have it (even if it can sometimes get “a little cold” during winter.


Peter Tertzakian

Peter Tertzakian


Ingrid Srinath (the Secretary General of Civicus) was our last speaker of the day – another dangerous slot for speakers.  She easily kept our attention by having some of the best images during her presentation.  I found that her points reinforced and built upon those of the speakers before her.  From my perspective, can you put “blinders” on your leadership and still call yourself a leader?  Here’s something to think about – can Canada truly call itself a global leader?


Ingrid Srinath

Ingrid Srinath


By the end of the afternoon, my body was tired of sitting so much.  I hardly noticed it, however, since my mind was still busy trying to process all of the information that it had received in a short period of time.  Not only did the speakers provide some great information, but questions from the crowd were fantastic at bringing out the nuances of the leadership perspectives, and how they could be applied in various circumstances.  My blog cannot really do justice to any of the speakers – if you want some extracts from their speeches, links will be provided in the show notes.

 Listener Feedback

  • I have already lined up a few speakers; you should be hearing them over the coming weeks.
  • I listen to many podcasts; most enjoyable are ones with the audience calling/writing in.
  • I love to hear about success; tell me (and this crowd) your success stories (keep “G” rating)

Resources and Articles

A potential resource for students is the Leadership Experience and Development program (LEAD for short) at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.  First came across an article written by Kylie Burchat in the student paper “The Argus”. – Not familiar with the program, but it sounds like a great way to develop leadership in post-secondary institutions.

(The original article has been deleted.)

The first article is from Megan Biro from forbes.com called “The New Rules of Leadership” -Although article focussed on global aspects (borderless technology, continuous learning, developing our talent), lessons apply at home. http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2013/03/17/the-new-rules-of-leadership/

The next article is from the Canadian Press as found on cbc.ca called “Liberal Leadership Extension Failing to Boost Numbers” – Trying to find a new leader – Politics can be difficult – both my father and father-in-law are or have previously been involved.  Commitment to take action to help their constituents. – Not a national election, but a party-specific vote.  294k party member, only 114k (or 39%) signed up to vote.  Is this a failure of leadership (not creating a compelling vision, lack of charisma, etc.), or can it be attributed to something else? – Liberal party not a target here, just framework for discussion http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/03/19/pol-cp-liberal-leadership-registrations.html

Speaking of picking a leader, this episode’s final article is from Janet Steffenhagen from the Vancouver Sun titled “Jim Iker Brings New Style of Leadership to BC Teacher’s Union. – Subtitle “BCTF elects soft-spoken Iker to replace fiery Susan Lambert” – rather provocative line there – Why would a group select a different leader, especially one who appears to be rather different?  Is it a matter of being tired of a former leader? Liking another leader more? Just wanting change (“war-weary union” in the article)? – Can also extend to politics http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Iker+brings+style+leadership+teachers+union/8117251/story.html

I’m Chris Hache, asking you to be VOCL for a better Canada.


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