Thought leadership

The 21st Century Leader in Motion

At L’Institut, although we’re not in the business of making predictions per se, we have had some unusual experiences where our maps allowed us to anticipate how the public might behave against a particular issue or event. Particularly around election times. What made it possible for us to anticipate mass behaviour in these instances is the fact that we had a map of the mass consciousness around the very topic of being a successful leader in the 21st century, as referenced in previous posts (see “How to be a Successful Leader in the Age of Ideaship”).

Using your leadership map, who do you think will capture the hearts of Canadians tomorrow during the election?

When we conducted our mapping on leadership in 2007, we applied it to the U.S. presidential election and spotlighted the then young junior senator from the state of Illinois, Barack Obama.

In more recent times, we had another similar experience in the fall of 2015, when the day before the federal election for Prime Minister in Canada, one of our colleagues asked, “Using your leadership map, who do you think will capture the hearts of Canadians tomorrow during the election?” While the polls told us, erroneously, that the 3 candidates and their respective parties were in a dead heat, we replied that the one candidate who was currently doing the best job of demonstrating the characteristics embodied in our leadership study, was in fact Justin Trudeau. It’s important to note that our principals are not all Liberals, and come from a variety of political backgrounds. But the map is the map.

The rest, of course, is history. Trudeau defied pundits and polls, winning by an exceptionally wide margin. But you may ask what were the values and qualities from the leadership map that Trudeau exemplified, not just during – but after the election. To restate the findings, the following notions were part of the ‘shared mental space’ that surrounds our collective consciousness around successful leadership:

  1. The ability to think and act freely, in ‘unencumbered fashion’

One can argue that the appointment of a startlingly diverse cabinet soon after the election demonstrated this new administration’s ability to think in an agile fashion, unencumbered by the habits of the past.

  1. Demonstrating a fresh and contemporary way of doing things

Here, Trudeau’s very youth and the deliberately youthful, ‘different’ approach to the campaign delivered on this value very effectively.

  1. Trustworthiness, and the ability to trust others

The narrative around the actions of the volunteers, including the candidate himself, as they traveled across the country to meet Canadians, learn from them, ask them about their needs, aspirations and ideas – set up this two-way trusting relationship in a formidable way.

  1. Inner peace and stability (“quiet confidence”)

While this is something that every leader never masters 100%, over the course of the campaign there was an increasing sense of calm and balance demonstrated, a ‘stay the course’ approach that was more proactive than reactive.

While no candidate or leader exemplifies the above perfectly, and certainly the current federal administration in Canada is on a steep learning curve when it comes to leadership, the initial indications are that Trudeau and his administration are intuitively ‘on map’.

Now, we get to observe the roller coaster ride that is American politics, and see where, if at all, the U.S. leaders exemplify any of the qualities from the map. As the French say, “On verra…”



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