Conference Recap | The Art of Leadership 2017

Written By: Brian Lam

The Art of Leadership descended on Vancouver on October 26, 2017. Five thought and leadership practitioners shared their views and perspectives on leadership. I came away with three key concepts.

One – leaders need to be fully committed to the rigors and responsibilities of leadership. Through his research and study on effective leaders, Vince Molinaro highlighted this point with the question: “Are you all in as a leader?” His query reflected his observation that many leaders become leaders by way of their technical knowledge and experience (engineer, doctor) or by way of their seniority (tenure). The need to be fully committed was argued further by Vice President (VP) Joe Biden. He referred to his possible run for the presidency of the United States in 2016. VP Biden believed he needed to be fully committed to taking on the office of the President. Due to the death of his son in 2016, he didn’t feel prepared to do so. He added that the capacity to decline the role of leadership requires courage.

This leads us to the second of the three leadership observations: leaders need to be courageous. The underlying concept was the need for leaders to have the courage and conviction to do the right thing for their teams and their organization for the long term. Courageous leaders recognize that their choices are likely to be unpopular over the short term. Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, added to this concept of courage by suggesting that leaders need to have the courage to routinely seek constructive criticism. By seeking these critical/disparate viewpoints, a courageous leader is better able to improve their practice of being a committed and courageous leader.

Finally, the one common leadership element that appeared to be shared amongst the speakers of the day was this: leader’s care. All the speakers referred to this notion of a caring leader in their own way. It was speaker Welby Altidor, however, who provided an apt analogy of what it means and looks like to be a caring leader. According to Welby, leadership is akin to being a master gardener. A master gardener cultivates his crop with attention, care, devotion, and patience with the ultimate hope that it will flourish, grow and produce. Similarly, a committed, courageous and caring leader can enable his or her team or organization to grow, flourish and produce.

If a leader is seeking to masterfully tend to their team of followers, he or she needs an assembly of skills and tools. The speakers at the Art of Leadership believed that leadership skills could be learned and developed. Having heard from each speaker, I believe they were espousing the need for leaders to be committed, courageous and above all caring.

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