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HBA Leadership Day inspires students to lead with character

  • Dawn Milne
  • |
  • Sep 16, 2020
HBA Leadership Day inspires students to lead with character

Peter Katz’s journey as a Canadian singer-songwriter hasn’t been easy. In fact, at times, he was almost ready to give it up until one show in Fort MacLeod, Alta. changed everything.

It was there that Katz met the organizers of a youth mentoring program called FACES and was asked to get involved. The organizers had been incorporating his music in the programming.

“A few months later, I flew out to the mountains of Alberta and I had the most unbelievable 12 days of my life,” said Katz, who, other than this summer, has run the program for a month every summer for the past seven years. “It’s the best thing that I do.”

Katz, a Juno Award- and Canadian Screen Award-nominated singer-songwriter, was the keynote speaker for this year’s virtual HBA Leadership Day. He shared insights on how to lead with character and make your life meaningful.

“You're all here to better yourselves – to grow and to learn, and ultimately to become leaders … You need drive. You need courage. And now you also need resilience and adaptability,” he said. “So how do we overlap? I relate to the fact that we’re both trying to do something meaningful. That challenges us. It requires us to find our way through so that we can be the leaders we wish to be.”

Four ways to navigate challenges

Katz shared with students four strategies for dealing with challenges:

1. Find your anchor to integrity

Katz calls this his “head-on-the-pillow rule.” Every night, when he puts his head on his pillow, he asks himself two questions: Have I tried my best?, and, Have I helped others to do their best?

“Those questions for me are a daily connection with my integrity,” he said. “Integrity fuels our drive because it gives our goals purpose.”

2. See the bigger picture

Two additional questions Katz asks himself are: Why am I doing what I'm doing?, and, Who am I doing it for? He asked the students to do the same.

“I invite you to reflect on that, dream on that, and write it down,” he said. “When we're not connected to our bigger picture on a daily basis, what we have to do on a daily basis becomes a lot harder.”

3. Develop a lifeline

To get through hard times, you need people you can count on to help you. Katz encouraged the students to build a network of people they can trust and lean on.

“This is an opportunity to build a connection. The Ivey Network we all know is a very powerful one,” he said. “But I’m not just talking about running businesses together. We also need to have conversations about how we’re doing … This is a lifelines goldmine.”

 4. Remember that you don’t have all the time in the world

Life is short, so make sure you are on the path you want to follow.

“Knowing that I don’t have all the time in the world and reminding myself that I don’t have all the time in the world … it has given me that drive. It has given me courage,” he said. “It has given me the most important filter in my decision-making and my judgment because I always ask myself: Am I doing things in a way that I can be proud of, that have an impact, and that make this world better? Or am I not?”

Advice from the leaders panel

HBA Leadership Day also included a mini-case class and a panel discussion focused on the learning that happens to good leaders throughout their lives. The students heard from Franca Gucciardi, CEO of McCall MacBain Foundation; Mona Malone, HBA ’94, Chief Human Resources Officer and Head of People & Culture at BMO Financial Group; Jeannine Pereira, HBA ’95, Director of Talent Development at EY Canada; and Rashid Wasti, EMBA ’03, EVP & Chief Talent Officer at George Weston Limited. Here are some takeaways:           

Gucciardi: “We have this saying, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ That’s a big mistake. You have to do unto others the way they want you to do unto them. That’s the difference.”

Malone: “Be open, be authentic, and share a bit about yourself with others … Authentic leadership is important and you only get authentic leadership by sharing about yourself and listening to the impact it has on them.“

Pereira: “Be an inclusive leader … The more inclusive you are, the more engaged and productive people you're going to have, and you’ll have better relationships going forward as well.”

Wasti:
“The things that you need to do as a good leader anyway are actually the same as what you would do to enable diversity to be successful … Leading with curiosity and at all times seeking to understand what's around you, will enable us to be better leaders in this regard … Everybody can do it at all levels – curiosity, embracing the power of difference, and advocating for others.”