Canadians Talk About Leadership

January 29, 2014 Vince Molinaro

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Have our leaders lost the trust of Canadians?

This was the question I was asked this week by John McComb, Corus Radio Network host, on his nationally syndicated show, Canadians Talk.

It’s not an easy question to answer. There is no doubt that many Canadians are cynical and disappointed about the performance of our leaders, both in business and in politics. You can hardly blame them – over the past year we’ve had our fill of examples in bad leadership.

What became clearly evident during the radio show was just how many people were affected by this problem. McComb was taking calls from his listeners, several of whom had very moving stories about how they had been personally let down by bad leaders.

One call came from a woman named Marian, who talked about how she had just quit her job to escape a bad leader. Her voice trembled as she described this painful decision. It was a courageous move – to leave a job in these uncertain economic times – but in taking a stand, she actually demonstrated her own grasp of the tenants of good leadership.

When it was my time to comment on Marian’s story, I shared some analysis featured in my book, The Leadership Contract.

I honestly believe that if you’re a lame, mediocre or outright bad leader, your days are numbered. A generation ago, a company could get by with bad leadership. Most workplaces were dominated by Baby Boomers who were more likely to put up with bad leaders. As difficult as it is to believe, tolerance for bad leadership was considered a badge of honour.

However, the business world is very different today. Competition is fierce and bad leadership is simply not tolerated. Why? Investors have higher and more specific expectations for leaders. And the workforce is now populated with Millennials that, in general, won’t put up with bad leaders like the boomers did. Like Marian, they’ll just leave.

Not all organizations are burdened with bad leadership. Unfortunately, bad leaders seem to garner more than their fair share of headlines. Good leadership is often, by its very nature, more quiet and unassuming. That means there are a lot of good leaders out there doing all of the right things, but we never hear about them. It also means a lot of good leaders are losing the trust of the people they lead. Not because they deserve it, but because they are being tarred with the same brush as bad leaders.

It’s time that all of us to stop settling for bad leadership. As listener Marian showed all of us, it’s time to start expecting more from our leaders.

Follow me @VinceMolinaro

About the Author

Vince Molinaro

Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.

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