Straight Talk on Leadership: Solving Canada's Business Crisis

Straight Talk on Leadership: Solving Canada's Business Crisis

by R. Douglas Williamson


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An urgent wake-up call—and radical action plan—for business leaders everywhere

While it focuses primarily on Canadian business, this important book shares valuable insights of benefit to transformational business leaders everywhere. Without sugar coating his message, author R. Douglas Williamson, head of the prestigious consultancy, The Beacon Group, points to complacency, lack of leadership sophistication, and an inward focus as the chief reasons why Canadian companies are at risk of falling behind the rest of the world. Issuing an urgent call to action, Williamson helps leaders understand the four principle challenges facing the modern leader and describes the eight essential leadership competencies required to navigate the future. He provides powerful strategies, tools and techniques for how to reframe thinking about leadership and reform leadership strategies.

  • Case Studies from The Beacon Group’s wide and diversified client base include The Four Seasons, Scotiabank, Nortel Networks, Research in Motion, The Hudson’s Bay Company, Export Development Canada, Holt Renfrew, and many others.
  • An impassioned call to action for leaders everywhere combined with practical advice and tools to help leaders take up the responsibility of transformational leadership during a period of unprecedented change and monumental global challenges.
  • One of the rare books to focus on Canadian business and business leadership, it explains why that country's competitiveness is in serious jeopardy and what can be done about it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118581681
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 08/19/2013
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

DOUG WILLIAMSON is Chief Executive Officer of The Beacon Group, a global leadership and strategy development firm whose clients range from well-known multinational companies to small and medium sized entrepreneurial businesses in Canada.

Over his varied career, Doug has worked in Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and Australia. Prior to founding The Beacon Group, he held senior executive-level positions with The Royal Bank of Canada and with the Canadian Government (including posts as Deputy Superintendent of Bankruptcy and as a member of the Canadian Government's 1992 Commission on Economic Prosperity).

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader xiii

Foreword xv

Introduction: Moving Backward at the Speed of Light 1

Part I: Leveraging Our National Brand through Bold Leadership 13

Chapter 1: Crimes of Leadership Malfeasance 15

Chapter 2: Lessons from the Recent Past 18

Chapter 3: Hidden Costs of the Current Crisis 22

Chapter 4: Confronting Our Complacency 24

Chapter 5: Mastering Transformational Tension 26

Chapter 6: The Canada Brand—An Inexhaustible Natural Resource 28

Chapter 7: Leveraging the Maple Leaf 30

Chapter 8: The Canadian Mosaic, Version 2.0 32

Chapter 9: Spirits of Our Past 34

Part II: Meeting the Future Today 39

Chapter 10: Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way 41

Chapter 11: Challenge #1: Sense Making and Sense Shaping 43

Chapter 12: Challenge #2: Clarity and Credibility 46

Chapter 13: Challenge #3: Understanding and Perspective 49

Chapter 14: Challenge #4: Creating Winning Conditions 52

Chapter 15: Mistaken Beliefs and Naïveté 60

Chapter 16: Raising the Flag 62

Part III: Preparing for Transformational Leadership 67

Chapter 17: Rebuilding the Franchise 69

Chapter 18: Winning Is an Attitude 71

Chapter 19: Playing the Canadian Game 73

Chapter 20: Benefits of Healthy Paranoia 75

Chapter 21: Thinking about Tomorrow 81

Chapter 22: Clear Vision and Sensitive Radar 82

Part IV: The Basis of a High-Performance Culture 87

Chapter 23: Teamwork vs. Team Performance 89

Chapter 24: Mistakes of Leadership 92

Chapter 25: Middle Management Malaise 94

Chapter 26: Coaching to the Bell Curve 96

Chapter 27: Culture of Grit and Determination 98

Chapter 28: Battling Stagnation 99

Chapter 29: The Team Is Not the Sum of Its Parts 101

Chapter 30: Facing Reality in the Mirror 103

Chapter 31: Stocking the Credibility Bank 105

Chapter 32: Discipline and Accountability 107

Chapter 33: Understanding Your Organizational DNA 109

Chapter 34: Modern Anthropology in the World of Business 111

Chapter 35: Superstars, Studs and Starlets 113

Chapter 36: Corporate Culture and Performance 117

Part V: Strategic Thinking vs. Strategic Planning 123

Chapter 37: Peripheral Vision as a Competitive Advantage 125

Chapter 38: Digging the Puck Out of the Corner 127

Chapter 39: The Importance of Total Candour 129

Chapter 40: Avoiding Conflict Is a Mistake 131

Chapter 41: Acting when Pivot Points Emerge 133

Chapter 42: Thinking in the Future Tense 138

Chapter 43: Opportunity Sensing 140

Chapter 44: The Narrative of Intentional Choice 142

Chapter 45: Focused Ambition 144

Part VI: The Importance of Human Capital Management 151

Chapter 46: Building Bench Strength for the Future 153

Chapter 47: Decline of the Dream 155

Chapter 48: Paradise Postponed 157

Chapter 49: OMG—They Are Back! 159

Chapter 50: Generations X, Y and Z? 160

Chapter 51: Shifting Values, New Challenges 162

Chapter 52: The Experience Economy 164

Chapter 53: Redefining Work 166

Chapter 54: The War for Talent, Version 3.0 167

Chapter 55: Role of Academia 172

Chapter 56: Role of Governments 174

Part VII: The Critical Role of Talent Management 179

Chapter 57: Owning the Podium 181

Chapter 58: Striving for Mediocrity 183

Chapter 59: Intellectual Capital 185

Chapter 60: Human Capital Planning 187

Chapter 61: Tears and Disappointment 189

Chapter 62: People, Practice and Perspiration 192

Chapter 63: Cost of Benign Neglect 194

Chapter 64: Investing in Development 196

Chapter 65: Societal Change in High Gear 198

Chapter 66: The Cost of Incompetence 199

Chapter 67: Knowledge Architecture 201

Chapter 68: Playing the Modern Game 206

Part VIII: Building the Collaborative Organization of the Future 213

Chapter 69: Compromise: The Enemy of Success 215

Chapter 70: Carpe Diem 218

Chapter 71: Collaboration Recast 220

Chapter 72: Reputation Management 222

Chapter 73: Misguided Focus and Human Nature 225

Chapter 74: Truth, Lies and Mediocrity 227

Chapter 75: Fresh Air and Brilliant Sunlight 229

Chapter 76: Shared Pain, Shared Gain 233

Part IX: Unleashing Innovation and Driving Creativity 239

Chapter 77: Reimagination 241

Chapter 78: Abandoning Certainty 244

Chapter 79: Prisoners of Our Mindsets 246

Chapter 80: Games We Play 248

Chapter 81: Human Nature Revealed 249

Chapter 82: Diversity, Imagination and Originality 250

Chapter 83: Creating Value by Creating Opportunity 252

Chapter 84: Brain over Brawn 254

Chapter 85: Rebels on Mahogany Row 259

Chapter 86: Expanding the Experience Repertoire 261

Chapter 87: Mindset for the Future 263

Chapter 88: Intuitive Genius Unleashed 264

Chapter 89: Competing for Relevance 266

Chapter 90: Overcoming Our National Hangover 267

Part X: The Art and Science of Effective Decision Making 271

Chapter 91: Decision Risk 273

Chapter 92: The Fog of Business 276

Chapter 93: Learning from Failure 278

Chapter 94: Upside of the Downside 280

Chapter 95: Understanding Human Frailty 282

Chapter 96: The Bias Trap 283

Chapter 97: Covering Our Asses 285

Chapter 98: Broadening Our Portfolio of Choices 286

Chapter 99: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions 292

Part XI: Straight Talk Conclusion 297

Chapter 100: Defining Canada’s Future 299

Acknowledgements 307

About the Author 309

Bibliography 311

Index 327

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