Leadership 2.0 at ABS 2009
The 2009 Atlantic Business Summit closed out the day with a panel discussion entitled “Leadership 2.0 in Atlantic Canada. Moderated by the co-host of CTV’s Canada AM, Newfoundland’s own Seamus O’Regan, the panel featured: Andrew Oland, President of Moosehead Breweries, Pamela Scott Crace, Editor of Progress Magazine, The Honourable David Dingwall P.C. Q.C. Counsel to Sampson McDougall, Tim Coates, Executive Director of 21 Inc, and Ken Pinto, Executive Director of the Atlantic Fringe Festival.
The panellists offered an unbiased, often heated debate on the many ways Atlantic Canada can move forward to foster the next generation of leaders in the region.
Embracing an entrepreneurial spirit
Pamela Scott Crace pointed out that for many young people, it is not “cool” to be seen as an entrepreneur. She was quick to point out that this is not a uniquely Atlantic Canadian problem, but one that effects to the rest of Canada as well. “We need to be more of a risk taking culture and develop new models for compensation as well”, she said. Expanding on that thought, Tim Coates commented that: “The word entrepreneurship is getting monopolized and devalued and that we need to find a different way to create an entrepreneurial culture”.
There were opposing views on the role of government in creating an entrepreneurial culture in Atlantic Canada? David Dingwall felt that government couldn’t make entrepreneurship “sexy” but it could facilitate it. Andrew Oland agreed that it was not the government’s responsibility to increase financial networks and venture capitalism but for businesses to foster an entrepreneurial spirit through private channels.
Working with the “net generation”
Picking up on the theme of Don Tapscott’s keynote address, David Dingwall said that we need to work with the “net generation” to find tomorrow’s leaders. Coates also concurred with that philosophy however he stopped short when considering Tapscott’s theory of collaboration. He stressed that training was still needed for businesses in order to build roles for youth in their company so that they can foster a connection with an employer.
Scott Crace also agreed that Atlantic Canada is in a unique position geographically as it can “provide local prosperity with a global perspective”. The net generation is rethinking ways of how to work and live in their communities and Atlantic Canada must learn to communicate with this rising demographic group.
Repositioning views on the “Brain Drain”
Andrew Oland brought up the interesting point that the public as well as the government have thus far not been able to agree on a migration framework for the region. He continued that a change in attitude is also required from businesses because up until now, they have not had to worry about their labour force. He cited the example of a local mill having to advertise for positions for the first time in its history, were normally those positions where maintained generation after generation.
An issue that Atlantic Canada has struggled with for a number of years is the retention of a skilled workforce. Several panellists agreed that if one can reframe the way they look at retention they will be able to effectively communicate with and mentor the next generation of leaders. In his experience, Tim Coates feels that the for many of the youth he has interacted with, “retention is equal to restraint in their eyes. And that we need to reposition opportunities as scenarios of inspiration”.
Leveraging out competitive advantage
There are several competitive advantages that will draw out a strong next generation of leaders. David Dingwall considers the emergence of Newfoundland and Labrador onto the global stage as a “have province” will be one of our strongest competitive advantages in the near future. Tim Coates also said another one of our competitive advantages is the “small pond effect” that can spawn strong leaders.
Working towards a masterpiece
The attitude of the panel towards next generation Atlantic Canadian leadership was overall, a positive one. Pamela Scott Crace said Atlantic Canada should be viewed as “work in progress towards a masterpiece”.