Leadership lessons they don’t teach in school

Posted May 10, 2010 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights

PowerRoundtable panelist Murray Kane (SVP of HR for the LCBO) did his homework before taking a seat on the panel at our Leadership Lessons They Don’t Teach in School session last week.  In a quick search of two of Toronto’s top universities, he found that “leadership” courses accounted for one module in one semester of their respective MBA programs.  A Google search of the word leadership books resulted in 50,000,000 results.  In this LeaderTalker’s opinion, the results seem to reinforce the point that leadership simply can’t be taught in the classroom and yet everyone seems to be ready to offer up an opinion on how to do it better.

On that note, our leadership panelists – Jacoline Loewen, Managing Partner of Loewen & Partners; Paul Ronan, Executive Director of the Ontario Parks Association; and, Murray Kane – shared with our audience their hard-won lessons and observations that come from leading from the trenches, not sitting in the spectator seats.  Here are just a few of the highlights:

  1. Take risks and seize opportunities… windows of opportunity open up and then close again.  It is the people who have the courage to speak up and take a risk that will make their own success.  
  2. It’s not what you say… it’s how you say it… As your momma said, it’s all in the delivery.  Support in public, criticize in private and be thoughtful in how you deliver your comments.  Keep what’s good for the individual as well as the organization in mind.
  3. Embrace your strengths, don’t apologize for them… read the culture and the situation you’re in, but don’t try to water down your strengths.  Keeping yourself “small” will only diminish your ultimate impact.
  4. Share leadership, you cannot do it alone…partner up with people on your team who bring a different skill set of strengths.  Not only does this enforce team ownership but also, as a team, you will accomplish more.
  5. Leadership is everywhere…regardless of the role or industry you are in, we are all in the people industry.  Every job is about customer service.  Everyone has the opportunity to lead.
  6. Make your own job…take the opportunity to turn your job into something you want it to be.  No job is perfect all the time.  Successful leaders know their strengths and see the opportunity to add elements to their jobs that play to their strengths and skill sets
  7. Don’t sit on the fence… leadership is about making decisions, even when all the variables aren’t known.  Don’t be afraid to take risks.  You may make mistakes, but you will be ahead of people who sit on the sidelines.
  8. Shut the duck up…. Pay attention to off the cuff feedback; reflect and recognize your own patterns of behaviour and watch and observe people’s reactions to you.  Listen more, judge less.

So much to share, so little time.  Next month we’ll be joined by Colleen Albiston, Paula Roberts and Joe Chidley who will share their insights on how to navigate career leaps… up, sideways, across divisions, functions or sectors.  Join the discussion.

Happy leading!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Comment

  1. […] Every Spring we bring a group of executives to our PowerRoundtable podium and ask them to spill the beans on what they’ve learned about leadership that can’t be taught in a classroom.  I feel like I should have had Michael Ignatieff on the podium for this particular session, but given that we held it the day after the election, his schedule was a little jammed.  Instead we had Anne-Marie Renaud (VP Operations for Pepsico Foods Canada); Simon Jennings (President, Olive Media) and Jerome Dwight (former President & CEO of BNY Trust Company of Canada, a subsidiary of BNY Mellon).  Here are some of their top tips combined with my observations (and you can see if they get repetitive with last year’s panelists). […]