Tomorrow we will celebrate Canada Day. As a proud Canadian I thought this would be an appropriate time to share some thoughts on our great nation and the people who make it up.
The 20th Century Belonged to Canada!
Wilfred Laurier declared that the 20th century belonged to Canada. In many ways he was right, our identity was forged in the battle fields of Vimy Ridge and the Somme during World War I. Pierre Burton captures so well the manner, approach and methods of dealing with challenges during those difficult times that so clearly made the "Canadians" so different from their counter parts. We had no history to tell us how things ought to be done so instead we drew upon our own depth of talent and diverse community to get things done. Only later would we discover that things had never been done that way before and we were the first. The Canadians were problem solvers and no approach was beyond consideration. Their success in places like Vimy were not simply due to the novelty of their approach but to the depth of their preparation and the scope of those they involved in the planning. They took the approach that everyone, from the lowest enlisted man right up the the general had a vested interest in making things succeed and quite frankly it is a model that is effective to this day.
In fact our impact in both World War I, World War II, the Korean War and our many peace keeping efforts in the latter part of the 20th century were keen testaments to a uniquely Canadian approach to dealing with issues that was not so much "you said we cant do this so we are going to show you we can" but rather it was more of a "let's hurry up and do this before someone tells us we can't". A subtle difference perhaps but meaningful if you are a Canadian.
As highly respected as we were with regard to our contributions during war time equally so were we regarded with regard to our contributions to peace keeping. Where others feared to tread Canadians could be found in the midst of the conflict actually working to bring the two sides together to create a dialogue. We established a reputation for fairness and fearlessness but also for a "true north" pragmatism that looked to create solutions where none seemed to exist. Canadians seemed to understand the power of working as a team as few seemed to. Perhaps that explains our passion around our wonderful sport of hockey!
Does the 21st Century Belong to Us Too?
So as we look to the 21st century what does that hold for Canada? I believe that Canada has the potential to revolutionize the way we do business in terms of how, who and why. Let me explain. As we see a whole millennial generation prepare to step into leadership roles they do so upon a firm foundation laid for them in the previous century. Canadian innovations on the battlefield or in the realm of peace keeping were anchored in a collective mindset of working as a team and utilizing all of the team to achieve the challenges set before them.
This generation comes to us having been educated and incubated in a setting where collaboration and inclusion are for them the norm. They understand the principles of collaboration and team work and they are not the least bit hesitant about wanting to see that come into their work place as well. They have a passion for the issues that impact us all. Unlike so many who want to place the burdens for solving those issues on the backs of others, they, in true Canadian fashion are prepared to take up the slack where they are and how they can. In a very real sense it is the embodiment of what we have come to be known for on the world stage.
So where we forged a national identity in the conflicts of the 20th century I believe we are going to refine and advance that identity in the realm of business and leadership. We have not yet begun to understand the breadth of our potential and the impact that it will have on us and our world around us. I believe that we have the opportunity to redefine what "world class" businesses and business practices look like and we are going to do it before anyone tells us we can’t. Performance Leadership - Think About It!