Don't settle for good enough. Strive for excellence, work for change.
Those were some of the thoughts of guest speaker Gaetan Thomas, chief executive officer for NB Power, as he addressed school and district staff at ASD-W's leaders' lounge held at Planet Hatch in Fredericton's Knowledge Park on Dec. 17.
Thomas outlined four key principles to effective leadership, beginning with (1) having a vision for your organization. This vision must be "crisp, compelling and inspiring" to draw people in and have them follow you.
Next, (2) "enthuse people by being the best you can be yourself." When people speak to you, listen. Don't try to do the job of others or tell them how to do their jobs.
"Let them grow and learn to trust you and they will respect you and come to you for advice," Thomas explained. "Leaders get to know people and let them grow -- like fish swimming together."
Thomas said the old style leadership of command and control, micro-management and blaming others does not motivate people or boost morale. In fact, it discourages people, creativity and ideas and promotes unhappiness and stagnation in the workplace.
"Leadership is about pulling people together toward a common goal," he noted. "It may take a change of culture over a long period of time to create the right environment. The bottom line is the journey and what you create in the dynamic."
Next, (3) be ready to take risks and inspire people to create the resources needed to fulfill your vision. Once they have the knowledge and the tools, it's time to (4) "give the baby away," he said. "Let it go, if you hear good news - applaud."
To get the best from people, you must engage both their hearts and minds. Be resourceful, innovate and try new things to reach your goals. Ask your followers for their ideas.
"Generally, we do not like change," Thomas stated. "Most decisions made with the heart can take a long time to get the head following it. People don't care what you think until they know you care."
Thomas noted 80 per cent of cultural transformations do not work because there are no guiding principles or change management plans in place to help people get onboard and work for success. It's sink or swim - like a ship without a rudder.
"It's easy to be good. It's not easy to be great. You have to help others realize why change is important. Leadership is also about growing future leaders. You want to create a culture of excellence that will continue. It is your best legacy. If you give trust, you will earn trust. Giving is receiving. If we all support each other, we all grow."
In education, Thomas said there is "no more noble responsibility than to be a leader for youth because what you teach or model may influence the rest of their lives."
He emphasized that schools are growing the province's future leaders and education is the key to the economy and prosperity of New Brunswick.
Thomas was introduced by ASD-W's leadership leads Jackie Hay and Laurie Pearson. Hundreds of educators from around the province tuned in via the Internet.