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For the past two days, Canadians have been reminiscing about Peter Lougheed, an extraordinary Canadian political leader who died on Thursday at the age of 84. Of all the accolades that have been penned or voiced, the one which struck me most is that he was a great team builder. He inspired smart, educated, thoughtful people to offer themselves in a life of public service. Now the rest of us need to take up that cause. Yesterday, CBC Radio’s “The Current” had an excellent segment recollecting stories about Mr. Lougheed. One of their guests, Former Senator Ron Ghitter, recalled how…

He (Lougheed) knocked on your door and said: “It’s time you gave something back to the province of Alberta.”

That comment made me wonder who is doing the same to find great leaders now. So I’m going to start knocking on the doors of people I know and telling them: “It’s time you gave something back to your country, your province, your community.” I suspect there are thousands of good people, who would make brilliant political leaders but have not stepped forward because no one encouraged them yet!

Samara Canada has done some excellent work looking at why people run for public office. We might suspect that some people run for office for all the wrong reasons. I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt and assume most of those who enter public life do so with good intentions. But we are missing many potentially great leaders for a long list of reasons. We can at least make sure that one of the reasons people don’t run for office is because no one asked them!

Previously in this blog, I disclosed my own political affiliation. But when it comes to recruiting great leaders for public service, I actually don’t care to which party they belong. I want intelligent, ethical and compassionate people to take up the key roles in every political party of this country. Here’s what the late Tommy Douglas said about the kind of people he wanted in service:

“We are seeking to get people who are willing to dedicate their lives to building a different kind of society… a society founded on the principles of concern for human well being and human welfare.”

Please help me recruit amazing leaders for public office. Spend five minutes right now and write down the names of three people that you would love to see as political leaders. Think of people who are creative, contemplative and unselfish. Keep that list somewhere that you’ll see it often. Now commit to approaching those three people in the next month to urge them to consider running for public office. If they seem remotely interested, please continue to encourage them. You know all the energy you expend over frustration about certain political leaders. Perhaps you can divert that energy into recruiting great people to use their time and talent in service of their fellow citizens. Let’s light a fire under the best people we know and ask them to step up now. Dr. Vincent Lam described one of the last speeches of Tommy Douglas and this is what was said:

“What was more important than whether they won the next election… was that they continue to advance their ideals… to build a productive, peaceful and caring society.”

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  1. Pingback: “GET” leaders – Generous, Empowering, Thoughtful | Jane Philpott

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