The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference

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Monique Leroux
Monique Leroux
Chair of the Board, President and CEO
Desjardins Group
Monique Leroux  

Excerpts from speech delivered to the Conference:

The Mouvement Desjardins arose in response to the difficulties caused by a long depression in the late 19th century. Resulting from a financial crisis in Europe and the failure of an American bank, that situation from long-ago is curiously similar to something more recent.

In many countries, sovereign debt and public finance crises are causing volatility on financial markets. This is creating a crisis of confidence that, in turn, is producing a leadership crisis. We are facing major changes: we feel and know intuitively that the status quo is not acceptable. This makes our personal and collective leadership vital in acting to find solutions.

In my view, exercising leadership involves five convictions. First comes respect for individuals. We always need other people. They must be in a position to express their ideas and ask questions. The clash of ideas is vital to enlightened leadership and is made possible only by respect for individuals.

Second comes confidence in individuals and teamwork. If we respect one another, we show mutual confidence. Thus favours agility, creativity, transparency, the rendering of accounts and efficiency, this is the cement that holds a strong team together.

In third place comes listening and an ability to learn. The leader does not stand out for what he or she knows but through an ability to learn constantly and, above all, to receive feedback for greater success. He or she must be capable of living with uncertainty and, upon occasion, recognizing errors.

The fourth conviction focuses on values. A long-lasting organization is one that is always united around values. The search for profit is not a value: it is a merely a way of fulfilling a project.

The fifth conviction, centring around the leadership cycle, is recognition. There is a need to recognize individual and collective efforts and achievements.

In the end, it's a matter of being an engaged participant, not a spectator, and making a contribution instead of waiting for others. This power and will to act are behind every great achievement. Businesses and communities depend on the contributions of individuals, like you, who are driven by a sense of solidarity.

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