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Understanding Leadership: What Colin T. McLetchie helped me realize

By on September 29, 2016

“PUT AWAY YOUR CELL PHONES FOR THE NEXT 2 HOURS,” Colin T. McLetchie emphatically demanded at the beginning of his session at the Ultimate Software HR Workshop in Toronto.

The twenty-year-old millennial in me thought, There’s no way I am going to be able to adhere to this man’s demands.


But to my surprise, the urge to pull the electronic addiction out of my pocket didn’t occur during his entire session.

Colin then said, “Your presence is a present in the present to those present.”

Don’t worry: when he spoke these words, it took me some deep contemplation to understand what he was saying, too. What Colin wanted was to have his audience detach from the past, detach from the future, and just be. Right now, together in that conference room. It is so important to be able to be present in a moment in time and allow yourself to fully listen to what another person has to say.

Here is what I learned.

I learned that leadership is an internal journey that is externally manifested. True leadership is not necessarily a direct reflection of someone’s job title, and in fact, is not attached solely to one’s business life at all. The ability to be a leader is within everyone’s grasp and leadership is involved in many more facets of our lives than we may presume. People gravitate to and want to be led by people who are authentic, purposeful and committed to a common goal.

Colin had the crowd do a quick activity to reveal an eye opening reality about leadership. I have shared the activity below so you can try it yourself.

Step 1: Think of the person in your life who you respect most as a leader – the person whose leadership has had the most significant impact on your life.

Got them? Now…

Step 2: Write down the top 3 qualities or abilities this person possesses that made you select them.

Got them?

At this point, Colin had everyone stand.

He said, “Sit down if the majority of the qualities of this leader are related to their intellectual abilities.” Not a single person sat down.

“Sit down if the majority of the qualities of this leader are related to their subject matter expertise.” Not a single person sat down.

At this point in time we were all left standing, staring at each other with the collective realization that everyone shared the same things that they admired in their most impactful leader – emotional things. For me, my leader was:

  1. Resilient
  2. Encouraging
  3. Trusting

I realized that in order for leadership to be truly impactful, it must come from a very human place. Sometimes it takes listening to a wise person, like Colin, to be reminded of this important truth. Sometimes it takes being reminded of these truths to appreciate the fantastic leaders in your life and in your organization. Sometimes it takes the introduction of a new perspective to really understand your own ability to be a leader.

By Dylan Yip-Chuck

12573825_1128747883803014_502062201798612835_nDylan Yip-Chuck is a University of Waterloo student, with a passion for digital media, business and entrepreneurship. He has returned to Learnography for his second consecutive work term, this time as Sales & Marketing Coordinator. In his spare time you will find Dylan playing the piano, binge-watching movies, and patiently waiting for the Leafs to win the cup.