The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference




“The Shift in Leadership” – Speech by Ed Clark, President and CEO of TD Bank Group, accepting Canadian CEO of the Year Award

Q&A on Leadership with Annette Verschuren, 2012 Conference Chair

Leadership and Voluntarism – Remarks by Governor General David Johnston

Address by Conference Chair Annette Verschuren:
Beyond the bottom line: a business leader’s obligations to Canadian society

Leadership in the Making: A History of the Commonwealth Study Conferences by Ian Anderson and Joel Ruimy

Leadership Blogs/Blog Entries

Jon Gordon, “10 Thoughts on Leadership”, Jon Gordon’s Blog, October 20, 2008.
Jon Gordon, an American lecturer, consultant and author, outlines 10 thoughts or ideas he considers fundamental to understanding the meaning of leadership and leading effectively in any environment.

The website Leadership Now: Building a Community of Leaders” ( contains a number of brief and informative articles on leadership ideals, the importance of having a vision, why seemingly invincible leaders have failed in the past, building trust and communicating effectively. The authors work in fields such as executive coaching/employee training and professional public speaking.

Paul B. Thornton, “3 Simple Presentation Tips for Leaders/Keep it Simple”, Great Leadership, February 20, 2011.
Paul Thornton, an author, speaker, educator and guest writer on this blog, describes how leaders can inspire others by presenting their arguments simply and convincingly.

Dan McCarthy, “What does ‘CEO Commitment’ to Leadership Development Really Mean?”, Great Leadership, February 10, 2011.
The blogger Dan McCarthy, Director of Executive Development Programs at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore School of Business and Economics (WSBE), writes an ‘email’ or open letter to CEOs and top-tier executives outlining how they could improve their leadership skills and thereby improve the performance of their entire company.

John R. Ryan, “What’s Your Leadership Mindset?”, Bloomberg Businessweek, June 19, 2009.
John R. Ryan, President of the Center for Creative Leadership, explains how an individual’s mindset can impede good leadership practices, or prevent him or her from pursuing leadership positions altogether, and how this can be changed.

Jay Forte, “Are You Leading from Your Greatness Zone?”, Random Acts of Leadership: Everyday Leadership through Everyday Action, January 31, 2011.
In his guest post on the blog, motivational speaker Jay Forte describes how effective leaders hold themselves to the highest standards and encourage the same in others.

Susan Mazza, “Leadership in Action”, Random Acts of Leadership: Everyday Leadership through Everyday Action, February 11, 2011.
Also on this blog, Susan Mazza, the primary blogger who has spent 20 years working with organizations to improve their leadership, describes how leadership cannot be defined in words, only in actions or by doing.

Tanveer Naseer, “Is Leadership an Art or a Science?”, Tanveer Naseer: Business Coach, Writer, and Overall Nice Guy, October 25, 2010.
The author Tanveer Naseer makes the case that a definition of leadership falls somewhere in between these two faculties, and he invites readers to consider this question for themselves.

Tanveer Naseer, “Migrating Geese: A Lesson in Leadership and Collaboration”, Tanveer Naseer: Business Coach, Writer, and Overall Nice Guy, May 6, 2010.
Naseer relates geese migration, an iconic Canadian event, to leadership qualities such as collaboration and flexibility.

Leadership Articles/Essays

Marshall Goldsmith, “To Help Others Develop, Start with Yourself”, Marshall Goldsmith, 2004.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, an renowned authority on leadership, who has been acknowledged as one of the fifteen most influential business thinkers in the world by The (London) Times and Forbes, explains the importance of staff providing CEOs with constructive criticism, and of CEOs working to implement these changes in their management styles.

Moya K. Mason, “Thoughts on Leadership: How Important is Decision-Making?”, MKM Research, n.d.
The essay’s author, Moya K. Mason, a professional freelance consultant, editor and writer, discusses decision-making as a key leadership skill. It requires analysis, critical thinking, strong research abilities and conflict management, in addition to the courage to be decisive yet remain flexible.

Deborah Meehan, “Structural Racism and Leadership”, Race, Poverty and Environment: A Journal for Social and Environmental Justice, a Project of: Urban Habitat, Vol. 17, No. 2, Fall 2010.
Deborah Meehan, founder and Executive Director of the Leadership Learning Community (LLC), explains how leadership programs in America lack diversity, and she offers guidelines for overcoming this problem.

Scott T. Paynton, “Tao and the Lost Art of Leadership”, Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, vol. 8, issue 4, Fall 2010.
Dr. Paynton is the Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at Humboldt State University in northern California. In this paper, he recounts his experiences with good and bad leadership in the academic setting. He explains that in order to lead well, academics will first have to understand how they define leadership, a definition they cannot help but conform their behaviour to, for better or for worse. According to Paynton, leadership in the West is typically defined by strength and control, when it would be more effective to take a passive approach, to observe more and intervene less.

Jowati Binti Juhary, “New Technologies in Leadership Training”, Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, vol. 8, issue 4, Fall 2010.
Dr. Juhary, who received a Ph.D. from the Monash Asia Institute, Monash University Melbourne, looks at how effective the new technologies of electronic learning and simulation are at developing leadership skills, particularly in military cadets.

Gregory L. Eastwood, “Leadership to Run the World: A Mandate for Higher Education”, Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, vol. 8, issue 3, Summer 2010.
Dr. Eastwood is University Professor of the State University of New York (SUNY), professor of bioethics and humanities and professor of medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University. In this article, he discusses leadership and morality, two concepts that can seem mutually exclusive when one considers recent political leaders like Eliot Spitzer and Rod Blagojevich, the former governors of New York and Illinois, respectively.

Abhinav Singh and Bharathi Purohit, “Leadership for Higher Education – Role of a Dean”, Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, vol. 8, issue 4, Fall 2010.
Dr. Singh teaches dentistry at Manipal College of Dental Sciences, India, and Dr. Purohit is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Dentistry at Peoples Dental College and Research Centre, Bhopal, India. They look at the problem of poor leadership from Deans as one of the problems posed by the increased privatization of schools for higher education in India.

“A Comparison Of Leadership Styles And Gender Role Internalization Among Female Managers In The United States”, Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, vol. 8, issue 4, Fall 2010.
The authors examine the gendering of leadership styles, with men and women adopting different styles according to the gender norms they have internalized. Specifically, they look at how women in their sample group have typically adopted a leadership style called “transformational,” which is characterized by consideration, support and mentorship.

John M.O. Ekundayo, et al., “Time to focus on Followers: Looking at the other side of the Leadership ‘coin’”, Leadership: The Online Journal, vol. 8, issue 4, Fall 2010.
The authors examine the role that followers play in leadership. In North America, the word ‘follower’ has become an insult; this essay looks at why and unpacks further interpretations of the word and the leader-follower relationship. Followership, like leadership, requires development. And in doing so, organizations facilitate more effective leadership.

“Evolving Perspective: Leaders and Leadership – An Interview with Ken Leithwood”, In Conversation, volume II, issue 2, Winter 2010.
In this interview, Dr. Leithwood, a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at OISE/University of Toronto, discusses how the role played by school leaders, particularly principals and superintendents, is shifting and what effect this has on student learning.

“The Authentic Leader: An Interview with Steve Munby”, In Conversation, volume II, issue I, Fall 2009.
Munby, the Chief Executive of the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s services in the UK, discusses the importance of balancing confidence in one’s leadership skills and humility as a leader, as well as managing accountability and inviting collaboration.

“Leadership: Aboriginal Perspectives and Challenges”, (Briefing June 2003, Aboriginal Leadership Roundtable, courtesy of the Conference Board of Canada, PDF)
This briefing document summarizes the findings from the round-table talks, specifically the unique challenges faced by Aboriginal leaders, who seek to preserve their culture while integrating with Canadian society. The talks also covered subjects including the qualities participants would like to see in their leaders and the problems posed by the Indian Act to leadership.

The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, speech at the launch of the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program, Ottawa, Ontario, June 7, 2010.
Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean spoke about the importance of empowering women, especially Aboriginal women, to become leaders in their communities, the government, and in the business and not-for-profit sectors. The Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program is designed to encourage First Nations, Métis and Inuit women to take on leadership roles and provide them with the skills to do so.

Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, “First Nations Leadership Development”, Aboriginal Leadership and Management at The Banff Centre, 2005.
This article represents the findings of Dr. Ottmann on First Nations leadership development. It looks at the history of Aboriginal leadership, how the Indian Act changed this leadership and the frustrations felt by Aboriginal people, particularly in Saskatchewan, with their leaders. Participants also explained that they believe First Nations leadership development should incorporate their culture and traditions and encourage greater community participation.

Derek Sankey, “Aboriginals Encouraged to Take on Leadership Roles”, Postmedia News, November 30, 2010.
This article describes the efforts made by companies like Shell Canada to recruit a diversity of leaders and the benefits this provides for both the organization and the individual.

Canadian Perspectives on Community

Community Foundations of Canada Conference – Speech by Governor General David Johnson

Aboriginal Leadership Institute

While some people may be born to leadership, most of us only acquire over time the experience, education, skills, and qualities characteristic of strong community leaders. The Aboriginal Leadership Institute helps develop these leadership attributes.

LaFontaine-Baldwin Conference Lectures

Through the annual LaFontaine-Baldwin Conference, John Ralston Saul encourages Canadians to come together in a national debate on the future of Canada’s civic culture. By looking back at the historical context of our democratic roots, we are in a better position as a society to discuss the way we imagine ourselves and our evolving democracy.

Perspectives from Conference Speakers

2012 Speakers

See the 2008 Speeches page.

International Perspectives on Community and Leadership

Address by His Highness the Aga Khan to the 2004 Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference

His Highness the Aga Khan discusses Canada in relation to the developing world and its "almost unique position to broaden the scope of her engagement with the developing world by sharing very widely her experience in humane governance to support pluralism, the development of civil society, and meritocratic premises for action."

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The Conference is funded entirely by donations from organizations and individuals who support the development of skilled Canadian leadership.

2012 Members

Alumni Community

Access to additional resources for conference Alumni.