This week’s article, written by Maureen Metcalf, features some of the take-aways from her interview with former Prime Minister of Canada, Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell. This interview is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series. This series features speakers from the Annual ILA Conference that occurred in October of 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a companion to Kim’s interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, Reimagining Our Leadership to be a Good Ancestor that aired on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022.
A 3-minute clip with the Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell
The full interview with the Right Honorable Kim Campbell
I was honored to interview the Right Honorable Kim Campbell in Geneva in October 2021 at the International Leadership Association Conference.
I want to start this post with a quote from our conversation that stood out to me:
“I have to be encouraged at the capacity of human beings to be wonderful. To be brave. To be imaginative. To be generous. To be kind…” – Kim Campbell
This conversation was a spirited exchange about what is working and not and the solid invitation to do better now so we create the future we want to leave for those who will bear the consequence of our actions. The following blog captures several ideas we discussed and reflects her perspectives.
We started with the topic of leading as an ancestor. It’s a concept our ancestors bequeathed to us. But, unfortunately, we may well be the ancestors that screw it all up for future generations. For example, climate change, the rise in authoritarianism, and threats to democracy are all tied together and impact the ability of future generations to flourish and achieve their potential. Kim’s quote was, “We will never have a more fair and just future until we have a more fair and just history.”
Many of the problems facing society now are grounded in ignorance. Many people don’t like narratives that challenge our position. In many cases, if a person or group isn’t prototypical (women, minority, disabled, etc.), their stories fall off the radar screen. As an example, let’s look at women. At least 60 have been presidents, prime ministers, etc., yet few people know. It is difficult for even the best to advance in their careers, /research, /and other areas. Yet many made foundational contributions to science. So what knowledge did we lose from the women who didn’t have that neighbor, or that person giving them a way onto the path? When we don’t see them on our radar, ignorance says they shouldn’t be there. They haven’t earned the right because they “don’t do that sort of thing.” Yet, typically, they’ve contributed to their field, but it’s unacknowledged or uncredited. This ignorance leads to a personal worldview that’s exclusionary. How much we’ve forgotten about Islam’s contributions to math, science, medicine, architecture – including our sheer numbers! These contributions have been undervalued because of the rise of European (Eurocentric) empires and the regression of Islamic culture resulting from religious fundamentalism.
Ignorance lets us feel superiority, hatred, disdain. It’s never a smooth ride for women. Women are the canaries in the mine when it comes to people wanting to erode liberties. Maybe things have to be disastrous to consolidate the will of good people. We can’t be complacent because it doesn’t always work out if people do nothing.
One difference now vs. the past: we’re now looking at issues where the impact on future generations is knowable, significant, and very real. Greta Thunberg: You are stealing my future and not dealing with this. , be turning their heads and saying, “Nah, can’t deal with it?”
The perversions wrought by ignorance are dangerous. They put lives at risk and undermine evidence-based decision-making. We, as leaders, can’t solve real problems with uninformed conspiracy theories. 700,000 Americans alone have died of Covid; that’s unconscionable by any measure, but the inevitable result of so many people (both leaders and rank-and-file Americans) don’t believe the science. Much ignorance results from disinformation, which is increased by social media.
Thoughts on the “Me Too” movement. Sexual harassment is still much more prevalent than many people realize. It’s not just that many men think that women’s bodies are the spoils of power (which has been the case for a long time – see the opening of The Odyssey, for example). Also, when women pushed back on sexual advances, the men sought to destroy them. This pressure still exists today –vindictiveness to destroy a woman’s career. It’s all about power: companies to pursue business irrespective of the effect on climate, politicians to destroy democratic norms, to control other people’s bodies.
With all of the discussion of the challenges, there is also hope. For example, it isn’t true that older people are less interested in climate change. Boomers are prepared to do more to deal with the issue. We can use our brains, imagination, and strength to improve lives & make the world a better place.
Podcasts may be one answer to address ignorance. They can be more civil, informative, and heard in the listeners’ time. But how do you get someone to listen, especially if it offers a different point of view? One of the values of some podcasts is they can provide a deeper exploration of specific topics as the time isn’t limited by the short form conversations in many other media outlets.
Women in politics are gaining traction. Women are not viewed the same as men – they are under more of a microscope. This view is improving slowly, but it is improving. Angela Merkel was tremendously successful in Germany. She doesn’t fit the stereotype of a powerful woman: she wears glasses, no skirts, a wide variety of colors in her jackets, etc. She has been so successful and long-running that she’s re-written expectations of a political leader.
I sincerely appreciate the Right Honorable Kim Campbell taking an hour to talk about what she is thinking and exploring and what she invites each of us to consider. I was left with the questions:
How can I be a better ancestor for future generations? How can my choices leave the world and the world of work a better place? What resonated with you from her conversation?
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.
About the Author
Maureen Metcalf, the CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.