O Canada: why the anthem caused an uproar

Posted February 16, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

During Friday’s opening ceremonies for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, torches, gum chewing and a mashup of our national athem had me wondering if there’s a time when leaders need to follow, not buck, tradition.

First, let me put my cards on the table: no one who knows me well would ever say that I wasn’t creative and innovative.  If there’s a better way or new way to do things, I’m usually the one barking about it.  And, even if nothings wrong with the system, I’m probably trying to figure out a way to change it.  Conservative or traditional, I’m not.

But, in reflecting on Friday’s opening ceremonies to the Olympics and seeing all the brouha ha that’s followed, particularily around the singing of our national athem by Nikki Yanofsky, it’s made me wonder if sometimes it’s just better for leaders to toe the traditional line?

Maybe there are times when we need traditional touchstones (like our national anthem for example) to bring people together.  Changing things, especially when emotions are high or people are anxious, is probably not adviseable.  It’s probably in those moments that people need consistency the most.

Case in point: what could be more emotionally charged than the Olympics?  The hype surrounding that event has been on a steady build since Vancouver won the hosting rights.  Maybe that’s why many have reacted so strongly to the sexed up version of the anthem.

What are you reinventing for the sake of reinventing?  Is it really necessary or is it going to spin your team into a direction that you hadn’t anticipated?  Thinking about when to rock the boat and when to take the traditional path is something every innovative leader (in particular) should probably check in on every now and then.

And now, as I channel my mother and make one last “conservative” observation: should you ever find yourself at the Olympics, carrying your countries’ flag and leading your team into the opening ceremonies… don’t forget to spit out your gum!  Jaromir Jagr take note.  Good grief.

Happy leading!


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