It’s been said the ineffective leader watches, from an elevated perspective, to see where people are headed. And then, as the crowd begins to move, the leader rushes down to ground level to take a position at the front of the parade.
This old joke underlines some serious truths about leadership.
The effective leader has a vision — a vision that includes the immediate surroundings and the wide expanse stretching to the horizon. That vision is informed by the leader’s own experience and insight, but also by the knowledge and the ideas of people at all levels of the organization, past and present.
An effective leader sees what has been and what will be. More importantly, that leader sees what could be. The great gift of that visionary leader is he or she has the ability to inspire others to work toward the vision.
The effective leader has no need to wait for a parade to form and then jump out in front of it.
We, in Greater Sudbury and across Northern Ontario, have an admirable legacy of strong, visionary leadership. If we think back to the 1970s and 1980s, for instance, we recall a significant shift in the city’s economic foundation.
Through hard work, advocacy and, yes, their leadership, the leaders of the day helped transform this community from a declining centre of resource extraction and export into the thriving and diversified city it is today.
In Greater Sudbury in 2013, we enjoy the benefits of a cluster of higher education, of health care and health research, and of numerous facets of mining excellence. We are known as an international centre of excellence in our areas of environmental expertise.
We are a service centre for all of the North. We are a destination for tourists, for businesses, for academics, for visiting professionals from around the globe.
This transformation was no accident. It’s the result of effective leadership.
As president of Laurentian University, I’ve been privileged to learn from so many smart and capable people, people whose vision and ideas have informed my own.
Because of our shared resolve to move Laurentian forward, we have seen unprecedented enrolment growth, record-setting research awards and sponsorships, and some of the biggest philanthropic gifts in the history of Northern Ontario.
To me, leadership is not about a single person’s vision. It’s about an ability to learn, to listen, to share and to collaborate.
Sudbury has shown the world how a formerly blackened, barren landscape can be transformed and our re-greening project is a tangible reminder of the possibilities that surround us.
And I believe Sudbury is particularly fertile ground to grow and foster the next generation of leaders. The Laurentian Leadership Summit is a first step in the process of nurturing these leaders of the future.
Dominic Giroux is president and vice-chancellor of Laurentian University. Northern Life will be publishing a series of weekly columns from a variety of Sudburians on the topic of leadership in the run up to the city’s first Leadership Summit, Oct. 24-25 at Laurentian University and Science North.