There is a uniqueness to the Canadian psyche.  It’s different than our half siblings to the south.  It may be related the DNA inherited from our mother across the pond?  But the Canadian leadership culture is different.  We are not so different that we are weird but we are different enough that if you don’t pay attention to it you’ll stub your toe and hurt yourself, and maybe hurt some others.

Firstly, to lead in Canada, you need to be seen as a person of compassion.  You have to “care”.  One of the hallmarks of Canada’s global identity is that we are a caring, compassionate nation.  We can quibble whether the identity is actual or perceived but on the world stage, we are usually seen as fair minded, appropriately caring people.  We usually are seen as people who aren’t simply looking after their own needs first but genuinely interested in the needs of others.

Secondly, you need to be trusted if you are a Canadian leader.  Trust is earned step by step and can be quickly evaporated by too many missteps.  Keeping one’s word, following through on a decision, making sure that you take appropriate action to a situation…all are trust makers (and conversely can be trust breakers).  Usually there is a gradient scale that trust is earned and increased as more demanding situations are managed.  People have to trust you.

Thirdly, competency kicks in.  It may be nearer the front of the line for some but I am of the opinion it’s actually the third stage of leadership. It’s related a little bit to trust, but it’s different.  People rise to the surface of organizations and usually it’s because of competence.  Some are good at self promotion but usually competence is recognized and eventually rewarded.  Canadians like to see a track record of experience before they take someone into leadership.  There are exceptions but usually it takes time.  Leaders are given chance to make decisions and then weighed.  And if good decisions are made the opportunity comes for further decision making comes.  You can even make poor decisions (though not too many) especially if you are deeply supported by stages 1 and 2 (see above).

Finally, leadership kicks in where one is allowed truly influence the picture.  Before then the person is obligated to earn his/her place before being allowed to speak into a situation.  And even then, leadership is not dictatorship but rather it is opinion shaping and appetite making.  In contrast to other circles where the leader directs the opinion or action of the group, in the Canadian context he/she shapes, respects and reflects the future of the organization.  It’s much more nuanced and communal.

So, as you look at your leadership…do people see you as a caring person?  Are you someone that they trust and respect?  Are you left alone to carry out projects that affect the group?  And finally, do people listen to you?  If so, you are on your way to being a good Canadian leader.  You may not be grandiose or world famous, but then again, very few Canadians really ever go there.

Thoughts?

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