Faces of Leadership

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Mar 11, 2011

by Lianne Castelino  www.whereparentstalk.com

They come in vastly different forms.  Young, old.  Extroverted, reserved.  Affluent or not.  The higher up you are in the pecking order usually dictates how much leadership you choose to show and how much of it will trickle down through the ranks. 

Schools, summer camps, clubs and after-school activities are all chock full of leadership-building programs for children.  The line-ups to sign up are long.

Building a leader is one thing, showing leadership, quite another.       

I applaud Air Canada.  It's decision to send a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman describing how the airline will pull its multi-million dollar sponsorship of the NHL if it does not address the increasing violence in hockey, shows leadership.

Being a complex corporate structure, you have to applaud how swiftly the air carrier moved to action — just hours after the hit that was heard around the globe —- 6'9 Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, leaving the young player with a fractured veterbra, aka a broken neck and a severe concussion.   

Putting your money where your mouth is. That is what Air Canada is doing here.  As I understand it the airlines' President and CEO Calin Rovinescu was horrified along with 21,100 other spectators at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night after witnessing the hit.  I watched it on tv and am still amazed that Pacioretty is not 1. dead or 2. paralyzed. 

Rovinescu's horror turned into a letter with a warning to the NHL — do something or we take off without you.


Parents and kids reading that should take note.  Part of showing true leadership is to stick to your principles, forge new ground, go it alone if need be with your scruples intact.  Pure leaders do not always need a posse, an entourage or yes-people to follow them.  They usually make brave, unpopular decisions, shaking the tree a bit to see which leaves still remain.

True leaders focus on doing the right thing, not about who is following them.

Ultimately leadership is about accountability.  You do something, you need to answer for it.  That is discipline 101 from where I stand.  

The other face of leadership in this story is that of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.  His response to the airlines' threat shows the exactly opposite of leadership.  Skating around the issue, his response amounts to 'the NHL doesn't  need your business Air Canada'.  

The gloves are off.

Unless I am living on another planet here, corporate sponsors of that ilk are not growing on trees or replicating like rabbits.  Money talks.  We shall see.

Tiger Woods' unravelling led to a host of his sponsors pulling the plug on the up-til-then pristine hero.  Good for them.

Leadership is not just a title or lip service.  It is a question of doing the right thing.  It is best displayed in action rather than in word.  Action that is objective, and principled.  Don't tell me what you'd like to do, JUST DO IT already and consistently.  

Our whole goal as parents is to instill a sense of right and wrong in our children, isn't it?  How stunningly hypocritical then to do the exact opposite over and over again.  

Air Canada seems to have taken the high road, giving the NHL a chance to somewhat redeem itself (not sure if that is entirely possible). 

Next step — pulling the sponsorship plug with the same brutal force that Chara hurled at Pacioretty.

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