Wow, what a rush! It was 1993 and I was on the convention floor in Ottawa for the Conservative Party Leadership Race. It looked like my choice for party leader, Kim Campbell was going to win if we could muster enough votes for the second ballot. It was organized mayhem and as a young business woman and new member of the national Conservative Party, I was in awe.
Just as we were preparing to vote, Kim came onto the floor to personally thank and shake hands with her supporters. I remember her working her way through the crowd. She was swarmed by the emotional throng and I remember, oh so clearly, her stopping to shake my hand and say thank you.
It was a pivotal moment for me. The leadership race had some nasty stuff going on and I wondered how she withstood the weight of it. I told her I was so sorry for what she had to endure and that I was proud to be part of her team. (I still have my pink Kim hat!)
And that is when I got a glimpse of an important leadership trait.
Kim Campbell looked directly into my eyes as I spoke and made me feel like there was no one else in the room. She listened, she smiled, and she quietly thanked me for my concern.
Nothing momentous, I grant you, but at that moment, I felt a connection with her. She was a leader who was interested in connecting with people at the human level, not the abstract level. At that moment I understood that effective leadership was about making meaningful human connections.
Well, as you know, Kim Campbell won the leadership race and became the first female Prime Minister of Canada, but was defeated in the federal election 5 months later.
I recently recounted this story to a young client, who is leading her team through a period of tremendous turmoil and change. The company is not doing well and she was questioning her leadership value if she failed and was unable to help win the day.
“So, what happened to Kim Campbell after losing the election?” she asked me. “Resiliency,” I said.
Resiliency is the ability to build on your strong personal foundation, adapt to change and embrace a growth mindset. When you are clear about your value and when you see obstacles and setbacks as opportunities, you have a growth mindset and you are resilient.
Kim Campbell was recognized as a leader who could excite people about the possibilities for the future. After the election, Kim taught at Harvard and held many positions of leadership on the international stage promoting the fundamentals of democracy and the advancement of women’s leadership. Kim’s many accomplishments have been recognized domestically and internationally with 11 honorary University degrees and the Order of Canada. Now in her 70’s Kim can look back on an exemplary life of leadership thanks to her resiliency and her ability to create meaningful human connections.
I would love to hear your thoughts on leading from a place of connection and resiliency?
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