Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Ted Menzies: A Response to Is Level 5 Leadership Something You Are Born With blog?

Let me first of all admit that I have an advantage that Erin did not have. I have had the pleasure in my former role as a federal politician to spend some personal time with L. Gen Dallaire discussing some of the many challenges that he faced in Rwanda and Bosnia. I heard first hand how he was caught not only in the Rwandan local tribal war, but also had to battle the international military establishment. This was when his leadership was put to the test.

I also have to admit that any leadership challenges that may have arisen in my life pale in comparison to L. Gen Dallaire’s easiest day. However all who were in attendance at GrowCanada learned from L. Gen Dallaire’s talk when he spoke of his leadership themes of vision, unified effort, strength and aim. A vision of what you as a person want to accomplish with the help of those around you, and how to engage those around you by articulating your vision. Only then will you have the buy-in of a unified team to provide the will to fulfill that vision. When confronted with the inevitable bumps and challenges is when the strength of your team will be required and the aim or focus is vital.

My belief is that leadership skills or qualities can be enhanced through learning and training but their fundamentals are inherent in real leaders. A leader must always be authentic and maintain transparent integrity.

Throughout my career, one motto that has guided me is that I must be capable of and willing to do any job that is asked of anyone helping me. I choose those words carefully because I believe any successes in my life are only possible through those that help me rather than suggest they work for me. And if I am not ready to work as hard as they do, then I am not worthy to guide them.

As a twenty year old manager of a team of 30 people, some of whom were twice my age, I felt compelled to learn quickly what was needed to keep them engaged and challenged enough to deliver results. That early lesson has served me well. Life-long learning is imperative to being a leader. I often say that I have learned something from each person that I have met. Sometimes it is merely tolerance, but even that is part of learning in itself.

One final point that I try to live by and the term was used very effectively by The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair in the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission report stating that we are all human beings, none better than the other and all deserve respect.


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