On February 26-27, I attended a BC Registrars Association (BCRA) conference. It was hosted by Capilano University and Simon Fraser University, and held at the SFU Harbour Centre downtown Vancouver, BC. It was a fine get-together, with approximately 100 in attendance (that’s my guess – I haven’t heard official numbers yet). The theme was “Going Green with BCRA: An Environment for Change.” It was a two-day conference beginning with breakfast and ending with lunch (you can tell what’s important to me at a conference…). There were two keynote speakers: Dr. Larry Axelrod, Dean of the Adler School of Professional Psychology at SFU, and Mr. Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation and Chancellor of Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. In between were several fine sessions and I would have liked to have attended all of them but I can only be in one place at a time. Over the next few days, I will post my experiences at the conference, including notes from various sessions.
I’ll start with the Opening Keynote address from Dr. Larry Axelrod.
I arrived at the conference at around 8:00 am, after taking the skytrain into Vancouver from Surrey, and walking the two blocks to the Harbour Centre campus of SFU. After a continental breakfast and coffee (mmm…), and a welcome and introduction by the conference chair, Dr. Axelrod rose to address the conference attendees on the topic, “Leading from Within: Seven Ethics of Effective Leadership”. Axelrod looked as though he was pushing 50, average height and build, light hair and balding. His voice was relatively high-pitched and typical of one used to giving lectures but not used to riveting crowds and gaining attention. When he really wanted to make a point, his voice got higher and strained and he sounded almost desperate.
He introduced his speech as being about leadership in transition from traditional paradigm (structure, hierarchy, territorial) to new paradigm (patient, curious, engaging, actively thinking about work and actively thinking about health). Unfortunately, he seemed to also have something against Christianity, as several times he took quotes from the Bible and pitted them against quotes from Ghandi or the Buddha or others, but in context, it worked. He started by addressing how we can be happy at work:
• Pursuit of happiness always leads to dissatisfaction (Aristotle)
• Pursuit of success and the good life leads to happiness
• Ask what can we control?
Then he showed this short video (sorry, I can’t figure out how to make this a hyper-link) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8lOwsMJSvk
Being an academic, he produced several lists, two of which I captured here:
7 Attributes of Leadership
1. Collaborative: interest based and inclusive – engage!
2. Communicative: open, sharing, transparent – in a vacuum, people tend to fill in space with negative thoughts.
3. Mentoring: non-judgmental.
4. Risk-Taking: supportive, creative, innovative.
5. Visionary: the art of the possible.
6. Advocacy: client and staff centered.
7. Role Model: always guided by values.
7 Ethics of Effective Leadership
1. Treat others as they would like to be treated (which starts with curiosity).
2. Be just while seeking justice (“An eye for an eye just leaves two people blind.” Ghandi).
3. Fight fire with fire prevention.
4. Understand that two rights often make a wrong (everyone thinks they’re right and the battle for who is “righter” often leads to wrongs).
5. If you have nothing nice to say, find a nice way of saying it. Don’t avoid difficult conversations.
6. Be yourself. Appreciate your strengths. Be your best.
7. If you can’t beat them, learn from them (learn the sources of resistance).
Axelrod closed with what he called The Leadership Challenge: plan and do at least one act of leadership each day. The planning is just as transformative as the doing.
I’ve printed the Leadership Challenge and taped it to my desk and will attempt it for a couple of weeks to see if it becomes a habit.