Above Water: Learning From Three Albertan Leaders


Title: Above Water: Learning From Three Albertan Leaders

Author(s): Thomas S. Axworthy

Publication Date: 2013

Type of Document : Other Documents

Category: Studies and Surveys

Geographic area:

  • Canada




Leadership is a term much used, and little understood. Searching «leadership« online shows 459 million results, and books on the topic - especially from business school presses - tumble out at a prodigious rate. Yet despite the overwhelming attention paid to the concept, its meaning is so contested that important thinkers, like Henry Mintzberg of McGill University, argue against «the cult of leadership,» asking «Have you heard the word «leadership» lately «say, in the last 10 minutes?»

1 His advice: we make too much fuss about it and should stop.?

2 Despite Mintzberg's healthy skepticism about exaggerated notions of leadership, while we ignore more mundane tasks like management and implementation, still, the nature of leadership has preoccupied us throughout history and, as this lecture series attests, there is continuing interest in the subject. So what does history teach us about leadership?

The vast literature on leadership falls into three main schools, which emphasize vision, character and learning. My thesis to you this afternoon is that three Albertans I have known and have worked with embody the virtues described in these three different takes on leadership. Further, I argue that learning from the different leadership styles of these individuals will assist us in addressing a public policy area that cries out for leadership: the necessity for federal, provincial, territorial, corporate, community, and individual actions to protect and enhance Canada's precious resources of fresh water.

To Learn More