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Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership

Teaching Materials & Development

Cases, case series and practitioner articles provide a real-world context for learning the skills of leadership.

Cases on Leader Character

Ferio Pugliese: Leading WestJet's New Carrier Encore

Gerard Seijts, Jean-Louis Schaan, Robert Way
Feb 12, 2015

In early 2014, Ferio Pugliese looked back on his turbulent first year as President of WestJet Airlines Ltd.’s new regional air service Encore. Encore was the company’s most significant organizational change in its 18 years of dramatic growth. Expanding the airline’s fleet to include smaller, short-haul aircraft servicing smaller destinations throughout Western Canada had not been without growing pains. For example, a number of employees reportedly felt they were losing their sense of belonging in the company that prided itself on employee satisfaction. Pugliese wondered how he should proceed in putting Encore on a successful path.

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Boldly Go: Character Drives Leadership at Providence Healthcare

Mary Weil, Chitra Reddin
Feb 03, 2015

The president and CEO of Providence Healthcare needs to devise a plan to sustain positive change at the health care company. In just four years, she has led the organization through massive change and turnaround, from potential crisis to financial health and innovation. She now needs to consider how to integrate and embed the values that helped her drive change and foster collaboration, both at Providence and with its key partners. What more can she do to sustain positive change at Providence Healthcare through her values-based leadership and to win the support of key stakeholders well into the future? Much of the success thus far has depended on her values and character as a leader.

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Michael Boulos: A Career Derailed

Gerard Seijts, Kanina Blanchard
Nov 4, 2014

On July 16, 2014, the finance manager of the Powertrain Department in the Whitby, Ontario branch of Astra Automotive, a global automotive parts manufacturer, was summoned to a meeting. He had been with the company for 11 years, steadily rising through the ranks because of his analytical capabilities, grasp of business complexities and intense work ethic.

He was ambitious and driven to succeed; as a result, he was sometimes perceived as unnecessarily harsh and somewhat disrespectful toward colleagues and those under him when mistakes were made. He had been in his present role for just over a year, and though the company was pleased with his results, they were insistent that he enrol in training to help him better lead his department and staff. Overcome with preparing for a major presentation, he neglected to do so. As a result, he was suspended with pay for one week for allegedly not treating a colleague with respect. Now, his director, the Canadian president of operations and the human resources manager were waiting to give him the bad news: he was being fired.

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Donglegate: Candour through Social Media

Charlice Hurst, Karen MacMillan, Thomas Watson
Jun 11, 2014

In 2013, controversy arose over the actions of Adria Richards, a developer-evangelist, in response to remarks she overheard being made by two male attendees at a technology conference. After she reported what she believed to be sexist remarks by posting a photo of the men and a comment on Twitter, the two men were asked to leave the conference session and one was soon fired.

A firestorm ensued during which Richards' actions were subjected to scrutiny and the larger question of whether sexism hindered women's participation in the technology industry received a great deal of attention.

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Shareholder Activism at Canadian Pacific

Jeffrey Gandz, Charles McMillan
Apr 23, 2014

Canadian Pacific (CP), a North American railway company, had recently come under attack from an activist shareholder, Pershing Square Capital Management (Pershing). Pershing had accumulated a 14 per cent shareholding in CP and had recently announced its intention to replace the CP board of directors and its chief executive officer.

The case reviews the history of CP, its recent performance relative to Canadian National, and the basis for Pershing's allegations that CP had lagged its competitor in terms of performance and that this was attributable to poor governance and management. The board of CP must decide whether to make concessions to Pershing or risk an all-out proxy battle which it may well lose.

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Invictus: Introducing Leadership Competencies, Character and Commitment

Gerard Seijts, Jeffrey Gandz, Mary Crossan
Mar 20, 2014

Business schools have done an admirable job of teaching competencies, and many business organizations have defined the framework of competencies that are required to be successful in the institution.

However, much less attention has been spent on leadership character and the importance of commitment to the leadership role. There is no consistent understanding among executives about what character means, despite a concurrence that it is important. The movie Invictus portrays Nelson Mandela in his first year as the first black president of the newly desegregated South Africa as he persuades not only both black and white populations to support the national rugby team in its effort to win the World Cup but also the players themselves. It provides a truly brilliant illustration of not only the competencies required to lead but also the leadership character and commitment that are needed to lead during trying times.

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Triage at Rouge Valley Health System

Gerard Seijts, Robert Way
Mar 14, 2014

In late 2006, the Rouge Valley Health System’s board of directors began to grasp the gravity of the leadership challenge set before them: rescue the amalgamated Scarborough Centenary Hospital and the Ajax and Pickering General Hospital, which was financially a “basket case,” or face an imposed government takeover.

A recently completed independent peer review conducted from June through November 2007 came down hard on the former senior leadership team for poor performance and lack of accountability. To reverse the hospital’s grave prognosis, the board needed to perform triage: work with their new chief executive officer to stop the financial bleed, restore faith among the hospital’s senior management and work towards a new organizational culture.

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Lac-Megantic Train Derailment: Putting Out the Fires

Jana Seijts, Paul Bigus
Jan 7, 2014

In the early morning of Saturday, July 6, 2013, the chairman of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Limited faced a catastrophic situation when a company train carrying crude oil derailed in the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, causing a series of explosions that decimated the downtown core.

Emergency crews fought to put out fires and search for survivors; residents were relocated to a local school to escape the noxious fumes, but the death toll and number of missing continued to rise. In the days that followed, as the provincial police and federal agencies began to investigate and suggested they might lay charges of criminal negligence, the company, which had no permanent public relations staff, needed to devise a communication strategy to reassure various stakeholders who were looking for answers as to why the derailment occurred, who would be held accountable and ultimately what action would be taken in the aftermath of such a deadly event. Also available is the supplement case 9B13M136.

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