A diverse group industry leaders recently flocked to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to hear two of this planet’s most in-demand speakers on leadership and innovation—John C. Maxwell and Jeremy Gutsche—as well as some of Canada’s foremost change agents, discuss leading change successfully in today’s business environment.

“Without change, we remain stagnant, expose our organizations to financial losses, and lose our relevance in the marketplace,” explained the event’s host Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta, CEO at OliveBlue Incorporated, which presented The Change Leadership series.

“Change is dynamic and unending, and now it’s happening at such a fast pace.”

Key learnings

Seven speakers and panellists took to the stage to share their experiences and insights on change leadership. Here is a roundup of some of the most impactful thoughts that were presented.

“Your company culture has to demonstrate that you earn leadership because you’re the best, not because you’ve been there the longest; if your culture protects that kind of environment, nothing is going to change.”

~John C. Maxwell, global leadership expert, speaker, author

“Forty-four per cent of Canadian companies said they had courage, but only 11 per cent of companies in Canada actually had courage (statistics cited from Deloitte’s 2016 report The Future Belongs to the Bold)… They need for us to step up as leaders.”

~Paul Alofs, president and CEO, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

“I think diversity is one of the most important issues in terms of innovation and creative thinking. There’s an old saying that, if you and I think alike, then one of us is redundant.”

~Jeremy Gutsche, disruptive innovation expert, speaker, author

“There are things like agile fatigue. Some people thrive on being agile, and others hit the wall. As leaders, we have to be aware of that, and figure out what we have to do to get those employees ready.”

~Gail A. Serverini, divisional vice president, Change Management, Holt Renfrew

“Relevance is not just about having a customer focus but also an employee and community focus…  At RBC, we have a very healthy paranoia about being and staying relevant.”

~Laura Fisher, vice president, Human Resources Shared Services, RBC

Intrapreneurship applies the same tenets of entrepreneurship: ask why, and mobilize people around a vision.”

~Dr. Steven Murphy, dean, Ted Rogers School of Management

“We rally employees behind the vision of us being a tech company that offers banking services.”

~Helen Wang, vice president, IT Lean Program, Scotiabank

Go forth and lead change

Despite the fancy titles of some of the presenters, the most important message conveyed at the event was probably that a person needn’t be a vice president, CEO, or business owner to lead.

“Anyone can learn to lead,” Maxwell told the audience.  My favourite quote is ‘one man with courage is a majority.’”

This post originally appeared in the August 1 Avanti Women blog and e-newsletter. Avanti Women empowers women to develop themselves professionally and personally so they can move forward in their careers. As a volunteer on the communications committee, I contribute content of relevance to the membership monthly.

~Write-or-die girl