Description: The 2016 Manion Lecture features Dick Pound, Chairman of the Olympic Broadcasting Services, speaking on the subject of successful leadership.
Date: August 8, 2016
Resolution: 1080p (132 Mb)
Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council:
I was greatly honoured to be asked to introduce Dick Pound, one of the best-known Canadians in the international sports milieu, who will be delivering this 2016 Manion Lecture. I know that we are looking forward to hearing from your insights and experiences shortly.
I have a really cool job because I get to meet very interesting and important people. And I will make a small connection, Mr. Pound, through Montréal because I was born in Montréal and it is the first community in which I lived. I got to meet another great Montréaler who has had a huge impact on the world last Wednesday and that's, of course, the incomparable Bill Shatner...
...from Star Trek. Montréal is obviously an incubator of great Canadians and...
...with global impact. And I am humbled to have had a chance to meet both of you.
So, before telling you a little bit more about Mr. Pound, I just want to acknowledge the great work of the Canada School and all of the things that it does.
In my recently published annual report to the Prime Minister (and I know you have all read your copies), with a view to delivering on the government's agenda and responding to the growing needs of Canadians, I indicated that the public service needs to accelerate the pace of modernization and renewal. The world around us is changing constantly. As society evolves, the public service has to evolve with it.
Canada School of Public Service provides public servants across the country, from coast to coast to coast, with exceptional opportunities to strengthen their skills and competencies that they require to excel in our rapidly-evolving environment. I want to thank Wilma and her team, her staff and the leadership of the School for the contribution they continue to make to the public service. A round of applause for the School, please!
Special events like today's Manion Lecture play a key role in provoking thoughtful discussion, generating ideas, new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing our world, new ways of doing our jobs as public servants. Ideas are critical, but we also have to create a culture in which ideas are welcome to take root and flourish. We have to build a public service where engagement with each other, with stakeholders, partners is the norm, not the exception. We have to build a public service that breaks down turf and territory and silos; collaboration is an instinct (the first response), where smart, intelligent risk-taking is the norm, is encouraged. And of course a public service based on respect, openness and transparency. A public service that sees renewal as its continuing mission and a continuous exercise of self-reflection and -improvement.
And a public service where all public servants are delivering real results for Canadians, results that can be measured and that make a difference in the lives of Canadians and people around the world.
Blueprint 2020 is therefore teaching us a lot about what we have to do to build the public service that we all want.
We have to pick up the pace of modernization initiatives in order to have the right tools, lighter structures, lighter processes. And at the same time, we have to redouble our focus on being the workplace and the workforce that we need to be. A strong focus that I have inherited from my predecessors and will continue on is workplace well-being and mental health in particular so that every public servant is able to give his or her best. Leaders in the public service have an obligation to create that work environment. An environment of respect. An environment that embraces differences and diversity. An environment of compassion for individuals struggling with health issues.
So this year we will be expecting all heads of agencies and departments to really focus on health and well-being. Workplace well-being is the corporate commitment and performance agreements of deputy heads, and you will be engaging with them in the weeks and months ahead on what is appropriate in your institution to move forward on this important challenge.
In this context, how we manage ethical challenges and complexities is also a creed mark of effective leadership. As I have often said, one of the things that must not change in the public service is our grounding in our values and indeed in our ethics. The values are the foundation of what we do for this country, and they give us a touchstone for where we want to go in the future. We must remain professional, non-partisan. Public service values (respect for democracy, respect for people, integrity, stewardship, excellence) continue to guide everything that we do, which brings me to my main purpose: to introduce one of Canada's foremost figures...
Dick Pound's contribution in the competitive and high-profile world of international sport is there for you on Google. I won't try to repeat it all, but it is an impressive and varied career. Competitive swimmer, medallist, Olympian, tax lawyer, chancellor of a university, somebody who has authored books, somebody who sat on the executive of an international organization for 16 years, I believe, made enormous contributions within Canada to the sports and Olympic movement (and of course across the world), native of St. Catherine's but somebody firmly rooted in Montréal... Dick Pound's involvement in Olympic sports started at a very young age as a competitor, a double finalist in the 1960 Games in Rome...
How many of you were alive in 1960?
[He] went on to win gold...
Gold, silver and bronze medals for Canada at the Commonwealth in Australia. While a student, Dick was invited to take a position as secretary of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and continued to work and thrive in that organization and then eventually became its president. In 1987 he took over the role of vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, and spent more than 16 years on the IOC's executive committee, seeing it through some very challenging and turbulent times.
Dick built the Olympics into a multi-billion dollar enterprise, branding and marketing the Olympic rings, negotiating television and sponsorship agreements, and he is still involved in Olympic broadcasting issues.
Very concerned and engaged in the issues of ethics in sport, Dick founded the World Anti-Doping Agency to coordinate the fight against doping in sport. Within five years the Agency's code had been adopted by all of the Olympic disciplines, a testament to his sense of fair play, and his tenacity and organizing skills. The issue of doping in sports continues to challenge us. You can also go to Google and see how topical it is today in terms of track and field, and other sports. It is an ongoing challenge.
So, with that very, very thin introduction to a remarkable career, which again is far from over (and I know we will continue to hear from Dick Pound, and his contributions to Canada and the world), let me ask you to join me in giving a strong public service welcome, an Ottawa welcome, to a great Canadian, Dick Pound.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for that splendid introduction. It compares remarkably with one that was afforded to our National Basketball [Team] coach, Jack Donohue, a number of years ago. He was at a conference (a great public speaker), and they said to him, as he was coming up onto the stage, "Jack, we're running a little behind. Would you mind introducing yourself?"
"Um, okay." So he said, "Hello, my name is Jack Donohue. I'm Canada's National Basketball Team coach. I'm 61 years old. I'm married. I have five children and I sleep in the nude."
"Which," he said, "is usually only a problem when I'm on long flights."
I must say I'm really delighted to be here. This is a tremendous audience and I'm very conscious of the honour attached to the invitation to deliver the Manion Lecture and that I am speaking to current and future leaders of the public service in Canada. I also appreciate the continuity of the connection with representatives of the Manion family, particularly you, great-grandmother Manion. And my chief worry is that you may conclude that there is a downward slide in the quality of the people speaking on this occasion.
As in many aspects of leadership in today's complex world, there is ongoing concern about the standards of that leadership and the responsibilities inherent in the exercise of the considerable powers that have been or will be conferred upon you as public servants. These powers will enable you and may require you to make decisions, often discretionary decisions, which can have profound impacts on the lives of those affected by them. For your own part, you will want to make the right decisions, correct in matters of law, and reasonable in relation to the facts before you when decisions are made.
You will also exert, as a matter of fact, a considerable influence on the development and application of legislative policies, helping those in political power to avoid mistakes and bringing to their attention gaps and shortfalls, based on your understanding of the machinery of administration of government with which the legislators may be unfamiliar, and of course ensuring that legislation and the administration of it do not breach the provisions of our Charter.
The real value, the real measure rather, of the values of any society are reflected in the manner in which public servants carry out their duties, and in the degree of confidence their conduct engenders in that society. Reasonable people are fully aware that they will not always achieve the results they are seeking. What they need to be able to conclude, however, is that their concerns have been addressed in an even-handed and impartial manner and to be satisfied that they have had every chance to make their representations to someone who has considered those representations prior to making a decision.
In the field with which I am the most familiar, namely taxation, quite often much of the process borders on Primal Scream Therapy...
... where the final outcome is often less important to a taxpayer than the knowledge that someone independent has listened to whatever it is that the taxpayer felt it necessary to say.
You are a combination of the current and future leaders of the Canadian public service. As such, you are required to take on many serious legal, policy, administrative and moral responsibilities.
How do you approach the issues of leadership attaching to your positions? That is what I am supposed to address.
And I propose to experiment this afternoon with a somewhat different approach to the discussion. It is, as my skiing friends would say, hors-piste, which I hope may prove to be of some value as you go forward.
Now over the years, I have collected a number of observations on leadership and the moral content of leadership. And I'll try to share some of those with you.
Starting with leadership itself, the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines "lead" as to cause (a person or animal) to go with one by drawing them along, and "leader" as the person who leads, commands, or precedes a group, organization or country.
In that respect, perhaps it might be useful to examine some observations on the question of leadership coming from great leaders and scholars. And I have a few examples for you:
Starting with concepts, Peter Drucker concludes: "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
Warren Bennis, in his book entitled Why Leaders Can't Lead, (a little ominous if you are buying it) said, very much along the same lines, "Leaders are people who do the right thing: managers are people who do things right. Both roles are crucial, but they differ profoundly. I often observe people in top positions," he says, "doing the wrong thing well."
Norman Bethune, another great Canadian, in identifying the personal element of leadership, said, "Every leader starts by first leading himself."
Then we have a somewhat muscular (even steroidal) approach by Paul Keating, who maintains that "Leadership is not about being nice. It's about being right and being strong."
Woodrow Wilson concluded, based on his academic and political experience, that "Absolute identity with one's cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership."
Clark Crouch said, and this, I must say, is one of my favourites, that "Leadership is getting the right people to do the right thing for the right reason in the right way at the right time at the right use of resources."
Now there are also some cynical and then occasionally humorous views on leadership, which nevertheless contain occasional grains of truth which help test the more serious observations.
So we have Clifford Hanley, in a book of Scottish quotations, who says that, "a born leader of men is someone who is afraid to go anywhere by himself."
Tom Wolfe observes, "It is very comforting to believe that leaders who do terrible things are, in fact, mad. That way, all we have to do to is make sure we don't put psychotics in high places and we've got the problem solved."
Adlai Stevenson concluded, "It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse."
Ellis Marsalis has this advice, "Never follow anybody who's working less than you."
Thomas Henry Huxley says that "Those who profess to lead ... are simply the fastest runners and the loudest squeakers of the herd which is rushing blindly down to its destruction."
Publilius Syrus, always, in my view, a very realistic observer of the human condition, states, "Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm."
Now all of these observations are useful for purposes of triangulating the elements of leadership, the elements, of which, I submit, include the following:
First, that leadership requires a vision of what the organization should be or become. It is implicit in this concept of vision that there is always a gap between what the organization is, to date, and what it can become, and that there is a potential that remains unfulfilled.
I sat for a number of years on the board of a public company (this is some time ago) when one of my fellow directors asked the Chief Executive Officer of the company what was his vision for the company. The CEO pulled out the corporate mission statement and began to read from it. The director interrupted him and said he had not asked him to describe the corporate mission, but, instead, his vision of what the company should be—where he wanted to take it. The director illustrated the point rather amusingly by saying that Christ had a vision and sent out missionaries; he did not have a mission and send out visionaries.
I would certainly never suggest, that by any means, that leadership is a solitary exercise—far from it. Leadership should involve at least as much listening as it does speaking. No one has a monopoly on good ideas. And good leadership includes the willingness to accept fine ideas from any source, whether inside or outside the organization, and of course the ability to separate the good from the bad.
Leadership requires the ability to establish certain objectives that the leader has identified and is able to articulate.
It also requires that these objectives be organized into a plan and be packaged in such a manner that they are achievable by the organization. The leader must always be aware of what is possible and, perhaps more important, what is not achievable. This may mean that the leader has to be prepared to parse his or her objectives or series of objectives (without abandoning the ultimate objective in any way) and not attempt to go too far too fast. It may also mean that the leader does not necessarily disclose the full plan sooner than the organization is able to absorb it. On that point, some of you who have been around for a while may recall the criticism of the Charter when it was first adopted, but only with the "notwithstanding" clause included. And the Prime Minister of the day, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, responded, in typical fashion (and those of you who knew him will recognize his approach to this), by saying, "Would you rather have no Charter at all or one with a notwithstanding clause?" End of discussion. He knew perfectly well the political risks of trying to go too far too fast.
The next skill is to be able to communicate the plan, within the organization, and to generate "buy-in" at all levels. Without buy-in of this nature, it is unlikely that the plan, however good it might be, will be properly executed. Only when the management team and employees are committed to the plan will they exert their best efforts to make sure that it is achieved.
In most cases (and you will certainly encounter this in the public service), there will also be a need to have external buy-in to the plan, which will, of course, vary in accordance with the publics affected by it, but whose support, whether tacit or overt, is essential to the success of the organization. It may be a voting public, it may be an investing public, it may be an eleemosynary public, a consuming public or an entertainment-seeking public. Whatever public it may be, the leader must be able to generate the necessary support.
The plan in place and the buy-in generated, the leader must then enable the management and employees to act. He must rigorously avoid any impulse to micro-manage the activities—and as those of you who know, the more you understand what needs to be done, the more certain it is that temptation will arise. So the leader's job is to supervise and to be sure that he or she is getting the best from all levels of the organization. If there is a good adage to bear in mind in this context, it would be "hands on – fingers out." We have all heard the nightmare stories of the "seagull leader", who flies in from time-to-time, uttering shrill cries, depositing excrement everywhere...
... and then flying out again. Or there is the Jesus Christ school of crisis management, where, whenever there is a crisis, the leader shouts, "Jesus Christ!" These are not the leaders you want to emulate.
In some respects, the leader must be something of a cheerleader, dispensing recognition and appreciation for jobs well done and for the successes enjoyed. I's amazing (and I am sure you know this from experience), it's amazing how much harder people are willing to work when they know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated by the leadership of the organization. In many respects, job satisfaction is far less about financial consideration than feeling valued for one's contributions to the organization. There is a Chinese proverb which holds that a good leader inspires others with confidence in him, while a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves.
A leader must always be assessing and measuring progress toward the objectives of the organization. Again, this is not necessarily an exercise in detail, but one from the perspective of 10,000 metres. As to measurement of this nature, I must say I have never been in a regulatory situation where I could apply it, but if I were king for a day in the regulatory field, I would make it possible for reporting entities to elect to report on an annual basis, rather than quarterly (barring, of course, significant changes that might have to be taken into account in risk appreciation). But I think it borders on lunacy for organizations to be forced, in effect, to meet quarterly financial and other targets in an enterprise that has medium- and long-term objectives. We have all seen some of the resulting excesses and manipulations that have got many organizations and their executives into serious difficulties and in some cases even into criminal behaviour.
No one is completely clairvoyant, even the best leaders. So events may well (and probably will on occasion) unfold that will require adaptation to new circumstances and a re-working of strategies and plans. The leader must always be alert to the circumstances that may require change, and the best leaders will be able to see the circumstances in advance and figure out how best to deal with them in real time, not after they may have had a crippling impact on the organization. It is, as we all know, invariably better to avoid a problem than to have to solve it.
This leads to a prescription that every good leader should follow. He or she must leave him or herself enough time to think. Dr. David Schwartz, the author of The Magic of Self Direction, notes that "The successful person, in any field, takes time out to confer with himself or herself. Real leaders use the solitude to put the pieces of a problem together, to work out solutions, and to plan." You don't have to be an Einstein (and perhaps you may not want to be one), but as leaders, it is certainly worth bearing in mind one of his well-known observations, namely that "Problems cannot be solved within the framework in which the problems were created."
So let's move on a bit to the more difficult challenge, that of examining the moral aspects of leadership. This is not an easy task, as we all know, and anyone who undertakes it must be particularly careful not to fall into the trap of preaching. As Samuel Johnson observed, "Be not too hasty to trust or to admire teachers of morality: they discourse like angels but they live like men."
Morality can often be an aspect of our lives that we seldom examine very closely. In his work entitled Everyday Ethics, Joshua Halberstam observed, "We spend much more time tending to the quality of our emotional lives than to the quality of our moral lives. Many people are prepared to shake up their lives in a mad bid for 'emotional happiness,' but very few will disturb their moral suppositions. When was the last time you asked yourself hard questions about your values?"
But, once again, we are here to consider moral leadership or values. I take this to be an invitation not to examine morality in the abstract, but rather to reflect on how moral considerations insert themselves into the actions of the best leaders.
We are, in the final analysis, speaking of values: what we are willing to do and what we are not.
In some respects, for those of you with marketing experience, it is perhaps easier to understand the issue if you think of a commercial brand or the brand of your own organization. As you know, a brand is not just a trade or other mark stamped on a package or a product, or a description of a service. A brand is a set of expectations and permissions. It is easily illustrated by a simple example. If I say "Lada" and "Rolls Royce."
If I say "Mont Blanc" or "Swatch"... or ... I am sorry. "Bic" and "Mont Blanc." Excuse me...
... "Bic" and "Mont Blanc," or "Swatch" and "Rolex." I am in each case describing two products that do precisely the same thing—provide transportation, allow you to write, or tell the time of day. But I will bet that each of those brands mentioned to you has undoubtedly triggered in your mind completely different sets of expectations and a sense of what is or is not appropriate for the use of each of them, not to mention, of course, the amounts you would be willing to pay for them.
As some of you may know, for many years, I was responsible for negotiating television rights to the Olympic Games and for the development of the international marketing program of the International Olympic Committee. As part of this exercise, we had to find out what were the core elements, the core values of the Olympic brand, in order to know what the world thought of us and expected from us. For me, it was a fascinating and particularly valuable exercise, and we learned to somewhat to our surprise that the Olympic brand was remarkably consistent throughout the entire world, east and west, north and south, developed and developing worlds. And interestingly enough, while elements such as "gold medal," "Olympic champion" and "world record" were obviously part of the brand, the core aspects were much more values-oriented and expressed in a moral context, such as: aspiration, youth, international, peaceful, striving and respect.
This research we did on this point enabled us to be sure that we did not stray from these fundamental values in any of our commercial or television arrangements. It also told us to avoid relationships that would damage the brand. So it made it very easy, for example, for us to refuse tobacco sponsorships that were very popular in many parts of the world, as you know, and any association with distilled spirits, you know, as being way off-message not only with the public expectation of the Olympic brands, but also offside as far as the "permissions" attaching to the brand. So we would not allow our Olympic television sponsors to run any commercials advertising products of that nature.
Now we had one case in Asia. There was an Asian broadcaster, which had a tobacco sponsor. We said, "You can't run tobacco or cigarette commercials during the Games; you can do it any other time you want, but not during the Games." The broadcaster nevertheless insisted, saying that tobacco was not regarded negatively within its broadcast territory, so there would be no adverse public reaction to the commercials. And there we were, in something of a stand-off, until we hit upon a solution.
At the time, and still to some degree now, all broadcasters of Olympic television relied upon what was then known as the "host broadcaster" to provide the basic signal, the basic coverage of all events (every heat, every quarter final, every game, every medal presentation or whatever it may be) as kind of the stock footage, and then they could do what they called their unilateral coverage, which would be... [For example], Canada would cover in particular depth events where Canadians were participating or expecting to do well.
And our solution to this cigarette commercial was really quite simple. As soon as we saw that the broadcaster had run another tobacco commercial, we pulled the plug on their connection with the basic signal. Their network went completely blank—no audio, no video, nothing. They panicked. I mean, it took them about four seconds to call and say, "There is a huge problem." (Their network had crashed.) "What can be done about it?"
We said, "We are of course very sorry to hear that your network has crashed. We were wondering if perhaps there might be some electronic allergy to smoke."
The penny dropped; they understood. We plugged them back in, and the problem was solved not only then but forever in the future. And you get to know for what you are prepared to do to protect you brand, in cases like that. Everybody, every broadcaster in the world covering the Olympics knew what happened, and they knew why it happened, and they certainly didn't want it to happen to them.
So, I think you have to identify, first, what are your basic principles, and then, where you draw the line in the sand, and following that, be certain that you don't compromise those principles. Your responsibility as a leader is to make sure that everyone in your organization understands the principles and that they are fundamental, not just because you say they are, but because your conduct makes it clear that this is the case.
It is certainly useful for any good leader to ask himself or herself if there is a difference between what he or she stands for and what his organization stands for. And perhaps, vice versa. But any discrepancy is bound to carry with it the likelihood of a moral failure.
A leader should also be known for the integrity of the promises made. Notwithstanding Sam Goldwyn's well-known statement that a verbal promise is not worth the paper it is written on, a verbal promise is no less binding than a written contract.
I had an example of that a few years ago involving one of our huge television contracts with NBC for the U.S. television rights to the Games. We had had the usual negotiations over a period of time. Actually, I used to pretend that I was negotiating in Italian lira so that I didn't panic at the thought of the amounts that were involved. Anyway, the negotiations [were] followed a few weeks later by a formal signing of the contract to record the deal, with the usual celebratory dinner, and everyone had gone off to their respective sunsets.
But a few weeks after the signing, the head of NBC Sports called me in my office in Montréal and said that he and a bunch of his executives needed an urgent meeting with me. [I said:] "I would be delighted to meet, but since there is only one of me and a whole bunch of you, why don't I get the dawn patrol down to New York the next day?" And he said, "No. It's urgent" and that they would come to Montréal that afternoon. I said that would be fine. Isn't access to a G5 wonderful?
In any event, when they arrived, I said, "What's the big deal here? What's so urgent that so much talent that ought to be making millions in New York was up here in Montréal on such short
notice?" Well, they said they had been reviewing the contract that we had signed a few weeks ago, and had found, to their horror, that it appeared from the language(which I think related to the revenue sharing on the owned-and-operated portion of their network) that they were going to have to pay the IOC $60 million more than they had anticipated and that they thought we had agreed. I said, "Well, let me have a look at it." So they showed me the portion of the contract, and sure enough, that's what it provided. I am enough of a lawyer to know that you could have gone to court on the base of that contract, which had an entire agreement clause in it (meaning you can't introduce anything else), and have won. Their high-priced lawyers and our high-priced lawyers had settled on the contractual languageand signed off on it before the contract was executed. So you could imagine there were many long faces across the table from me.
But, I said, the deal as written in the contract was not the deal that we had agreed upon, and it was clear that the lawyers had made a drafting mistake. And I certainly wasn't going to try to take advantage of a drafting error in our relationship with a very good Olympic partner. It was settled in 15 minutes. So the moral of that (which I know that story has gone around, you know, through the networks) is that our partners can rely on us to do what we promised to do and that we would be acting in good faith at all times.
Your business conduct should be consistent, rather than occasional and opportunistic. All of us, I am sure, have had experience with organizations, people and professionals whom, to put it at its most basic, we do not trust and who are not reliable. There are some clients for whom I am not willing to act, not because, you know, they can't afford to pay the fees, but precisely because I don't trust them and I don't wish to be identified with them, nor to have my firm identified with them. It has nothing to do with the size of the client nor the ability to pay the related fees. It is the matter of an ethical and moral choice I have as a professional regarding those to whom I am willing to provide services.
Your reputation in the community is what they say about you when you are not present. What do they say about you? The flip side of this, of course, is that you should be willing to say the same thing to a person's face that you say behind his back. Never think that people make no judgments about you based upon what you say about others. They may believe what you say, especially if it is negative. They may even share the same view, but they will remember where they heard it and they will wonder what you say about them when they're not there.
In my firm, we often use a litmus test in cases where we are not certain about something we have been asked to do, or an opinion that a client is seeking, or an action or negotiating tactic. There was one of the founders of our firm who was a consummate lawyer and gentleman, held in universal respect that bordered on reverence. I'll call him George. So whenever we were not sure, we would ask ourselves, "What would George do?" It was just astonishing how the moral clouds would instantly disappear. What would your George do?
The key in a lot of these things is, of course, not so much when you consider a problem. It happens in our business. If we consider an issue, we are more than likely to get it right. Where you get into trouble is if you fail to consider or you forget to consider a particular point. And that is where you can get into deep trouble. And do you have got to train yourself, almost as part of your routine, to ask those questions. When you get the issue out in front of you, you will probably get it right; but if you forget to do that or deliberately don't do that, that is where trouble can begin.
Let me say, just to conclude, that in the end a leader must have one essential quality, that of being able to decide. Now decisions may not always be correct and probably will not always be correct, but the leader must be able to make those decisions.
A good example of that came in 1993. After a spate of violence that had left more than 140 people dead over the previous week, Nelson Mandela admonished a crowd that demanded that he take a more militant stand against white South Africans. And he said to them, "As long as I am your leader, I am going to tell you when you're wrong and I will congratulate you when you're right."
He knew, in the words of André Malraux that "The first duty of the leader is to make him or herself be loved without courting love. To be loved without 'playing up' to anyone–including him or herself."
It doesn't matter whether you are running the Government of Canada, General Electric or a small community volunteer organization – the principles of leadership remain the same. Successful leaders, at whatever the level may be, must apply those principles or risk being ineffective.
Thank you very much.