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Opinion

Civility in Leadership

Published on 25/02/2013

Kathleen Wynne is Ontario’s new Premier, and quite appropriately much is being made of her victory in the Liberal leadership race and her being Premier. We at Maytree are delighted, and congratulate her.

Premier Wynne has long been a friend of Maytree. On many occasions she has led events for us, contributed her time and insights to people working in the community, and been available for advice and consultation. We have found her one of the most willing, best informed, and more aptly experienced community leaders we have worked with. And we have been glad to see others discover her great talents and come to her side.

Her victory is being described as a triumph for women, for diversity, for smart modern leadership campaigns, for social justice, and many other things. And there has been no shortage of commentators and political opponents willing to spell out her challenges.

One of the things we celebrate in our new Premier is a triumph of civility, which in many places is becoming lost. Throughout her public life, as in her private, Premier Wynne has displayed respect and courtesy. It has won her allies and friends, and some commentators have said it brought other leadership contenders to her side at the end. Many have commented that her training as a mediator has been vital, but we suspect it is something deeper in her character.

Civility in leadership at Queen’s Park is not new. Dalton McGuinty behaved with similar civility and courtesy, even amidst the slings and arrows of Ontario politics. He is also a person of great decency.

Neither McGuinty nor Premier Wynne are pushovers. Both have strong backbones and the courage to make the hard choices which the premiership requires. But they know when and where to be tough, always keeping in mind that you have to deal with people down the road another time, and demeaning them as people impedes your ability to persuade them on issues.

There are other politicians, and leaders in other sectors, in Canada who embrace civility. They are often called the “Happy Warriors.” They prefer to call on the best in others, and lead by inspiration.

Then there are the others who impugn others, questioning their motives and morals, calling them names, and going for the jugular at every opportunity. Canada has had its fill of them in recent years, of various political stripes. They don’t inspire, they prefer to frighten. They don’t want to deal with opponents down the road, they want them off the road.

Ontario’s recent premiers have chosen a different path, one of civility. Here at Maytree, we hope it’s catching.

Summary

Politicians and leaders in other sectors who embrace civility display respect and courtesy, call on the best in others, and lead by inspiration.

Topic(s)

Civic engagement