In crisis of confidence, authentic leadership is key


TORONTO, Feb. 22, 2012 –In the wake of corporate scandal, consumer activism and the barrage of messages we receive in the information age, Canadian institutions are grappling with a crisis in confidence.  Excellence Canada recently hosted a Thought Leaders Roundtable of over 30 senior corporate executives who came together to share insight and knowledge on leadership in a changing world.  Despite the diverse range of organizations that included the Bank of Canada, Xerox Canada, Delta Hotels and Resorts, Manulife Financial and Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, one message resounded clearly: authenticity is key to rebuilding trust.

“There has been a focus of too many leaders of organizations to restore confidence according to the flavor-of-the-day, often promoted through conference-proposed quick remedies,” says Gary Seveny, Chair of the Excellence Canada Board of Governors and former President and CEO of Alterna Bank of Canada. “It is time to get back to the basics of leadership and engage people in dialogue that is sincere and espouses caring while promoting a vision that is logical and resonates with almost all stakeholders. No more ‘same-old’ solutions and plans.”

Authentic leadership translates into establishing and maintaining a consistent focus on the vision and mission of your organization, as well as engaging in open, continuous communication with your stakeholders.  There was consensus among the roundtable executives that organizations led by authentic leaders would create a higher level of engagement, leading to stronger performance, higher customer satisfaction, better growth and a better bottom line.

It was strongly viewed by participants that authentic organizations are more creative and foster idea generation. Many attributed this to learning from failure. Leaders that are true to themselves are able to recognize failure more quickly and view failure as a learning opportunity. 

Authenticity doesn’t just happen; it has to be seen over time to be noticeable. To be an authentic leader requires careful modeling, as employees look for cues of organizational behaviour and conduct. 

“Leaders need to walk the talk,” says Allan Ebedes, Excellence Canada President and CEO. “You cannot just mandate it or send emails. You have to live it and lead by example.”

Excellence Canada has released a white paper summarizing the roundtable discussion. Read the white paper from Excellence Canada’s website.

About Excellence Canada
Founded in 1992 by Industry Canada, Excellence Canada is an independent, not-for-profit, organization that is committed to advancing organizational excellence across Canada. Excellence Canada assists Canadian organizations to improve performance through training, consultations, certification programs, partnership programs, advisory services and recognizing excellence.   The Excellence Canada Board of Governors and partners are comprised of leaders from the private sector, public sector, health care, and the not-for-profit sector, governs Excellence Canada.

For more information, please contact:
Name:  Dr. Steven Murphy, author and facilitator of roundtable.  Associate Dean, Sprott School of Business, Carleton University.
Phone:  613-520-2677; 613-769-4910

Name:  Mr. Allan Ebedes, President and CEO, Excellence Canada
Phone:  416-251-7600 ext 230