What follows is an edited transcript from Dr. Tanner’s welcome speech to members and guests at TEC’s Alberta multi-group meeting in Calgary on January 17, 2012.
It is a pleasure to see all of you here today. Some of you I have known for years, others I have not met before, and some of you are “generational” TEC members – by which I mean when the companies that their previous President or CEO built and sold has now opened up new doors for them to move into the role that their President or founder use to have. It’s wonderful for me to watch that progression build and watch people gain the confidence to take the risk necessary to build new companies based on past experience as an employee in a TEC member organization.
I want to share with you today some of the things that I’ve been working on and some perspectives that have been evolving for me over the last 25 years. So let me shift to what I see as a precursor, conceptually, to what you are going to hear today from Chris Luebkeman. In the 1970s I was very involved in the World Future Society, and I used to do a series of retreats on early warning systems for the American Management Association. I was always fascinated by how a lot of trend analysis was perceived as too general or esoteric by many in the business community.
I want to appeal to you to shift your head just a little bit about how you handle information that comes at you from a world citizen who you are going to meet here shortly. “World Citizens”, as far as I’m concerned, are people who actually live in and learn numerous cultures in different parts of the world. They are not parochial; they really have gone outside the socio-economic and cultural bounds of where they were primarily raised.
I am particularly interested in how that becomes a generative framework – a framework that supports those of you here today to be generative citizens of Canada. You are the people who take risks, create jobs, manage balance sheets hire people, manage all the fluctuations of the economic cycles, look for new markets, new talent, and deal with the depression when one of your senior people leaves and goes to a competitor – all of those very tough things you have to deal with. And you do deal with it, while at the same time maintaining a course of growth stability and development of your company.
One of the dimensions of being a generative citizen is also not just your companies, but how you also visualize yourself in relationship to your employees, your community, your nation, and your children, spouse and families. One of the things that a world citizen enjoys, I think, is that they see all of that in operation with a different cultural lens. And they see it comparatively in different countries so that in fact it’s different but it is still somewhat the same. Today you will have that opportunity to listen to a new perspective from a new lens on the world.
I’d like you to go outside the day-to-day business world and understand that this might be a lever that will allow you to move to new markets and new countries. It can enhance your intellectual capital and move you beyond what you would otherwise learn over time; knowledge that would simply be a lens that only focuses within relatively tight boundaries. I am interested in having you expand those boundaries – and that is one of the things that I have been involved with in my group for the past 25 years, which I still run. Sometimes my members enjoy it but do not see the relevance in it, and sometimes they see that, in fact, a whole new company or roll-up strategy can be developed that they didn’t see as possible for them previously.
The other dimension that I want you to see is the way in which, as you open your lens and expand what you see and understand in the world, you also expand what you see and understand in yourself – and more importantly in your employees. Because when we talk about corporate culture you have to allow and understand that there is a leakage function that takes place based on you and your development as a person and CEO or president.
What is leadership? Leadership is to be a vessel of data and intellectual capital that will actually ooze out and be available for the people who work for you. It has an energy and presence that inspires and commits loyalty; that attracts talent to you.
My goal is for you to shift your thinking, expand to embrace new paradigms and begin to grab relevance rather than wait for it to hit you in the head. Because as a leader, you need to be an operative into the world for your bankers, accountants, employees, and for new markets. This expanded nature allows you to be someone who attracts opportunity, who understands the culture so that when you do get lucky, you know how to exploit your luck.
So it is my pleasure to be with you. Thank you for your membership, thank you very much for your commitment to the growth and development of TEC Canada and this wonderful country of Canada.