Thursday, October 10, 2013

Do True Leaders Follow No One?

I heard a radio ad the other day that said, "A leader follows no one."

I believe nothing can be farther from the truth.  A true leader should not only follow other leaders, but should model themselves after the leaders they most respect and admire.

I have been fortunate in my life to have had numerous people who have taught and modeled invaluable leadership skills to me.  There are several individuals in particular who have a great influence on the type of leader I am and who I aspire to be.

When I was President of the GPRC Students' Association, I had the privilege of working with GPRC President, Don Gnatiuk, on a regular basis.  Don introduced me to the concept of the triple bottom line: money, people and environment.  And Don walked the talk.  Every decision that I saw him make, he ensured that it was financially responsible, people-centred, and addressed the impact to the College and community environment.  I also appreciated Don's openness. He ALWAYS made time to hear my thoughts and concerns and would pro-actively seek me out to hear what I was hearing from fellow students. 

During my time at the University of Lethbridge, I had the privilege of being taught a Local Government course by Jeffrey Coffman, a former Alderman with the City of Lethbridge.  He taught me to always look beyond conventional wisdom in politics, to challenge the status-quo, and to seek innovative solutions to issues. 

Jeff went on to run again and was successful in a by-election.  While on Council I got to see him put these words of wisdom into practice.  I also greatly appreciated how open and transparent he was with citizens as he would blog his perspective on every major issue.  You always knew where Jeff stood on an issue and he would give well reasoned arguments for his stance.

Throughout my internship with the City of Grande Prairie I had the opportunity to attend many committee and Council meetings.  This gave me to chance to observe the conduct of our previous Council on a regular basis.  While I appreciated the dedication of each Councillor and what they brought to the table, there were two in particular who I found really went over and above in their commitment.

Lorne Radbourne and Dan Wong are leaders on steroids.  Each one was always prepared for meetings, coming armed with marked up agenda packages and a quiver full of questions.  They would always steer conversations to the larger picture, thinking of the long-term effect a decision would have on our community.  Lorne and Dan would question the financial impact of projects and explore additional options to ensure the maximum benefit for taxpayers.  They pressed for decisions not to be made unless all affected parties were consulted.  In sum, I can strongly attest to Lorne's "Proven Leadership" and would suggest the label fits Dan very nicely as well.

These individuals have been sources of inspiration and wisdom to me.  Whether on Council or in other aspects of my life, it is always my intent to aspire to the ideals laid out here.

True leaders do follow other leaders.

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