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So Long, Peter Lougheed!

Talk about a man who left a mark!  Not just on the landscape [there too – see Kananaskis Country] but in a Province’s culture, in the shape of leaders to come, in the competence of a government, in the optimism of millions.
And he understood by whose grace he held position.  He took umbrage when someone suggested he was “in power”.  “In office!” he corrected, “In office!”
He understood that obligations and perspective much beyond the personal came with taking Office.  He understood deeply that he was a steward in government, charged with the welfare of many and maintaining the interest of the whole.
My presentation on “the Presidential Role” is largely concerned with this.  Much accrues to the holder of the Office of President both in ambit of authority but also in expectations of the “led”.  The aware head comes to see that meetings those expectations has a lot to do with success in the office.  Mr. Lougheed kept this as his northern star and he steered well by it.
Not that he throttled back what he thought needed to be done.  He took his mandate and ran with it, guided by his sense of what was right for Alberta.  He wasn’t hidebound by right wing doctrinaire “thinking” – following a script.  He kept his eye on the future and was moved by that.
And his eye on the future created a wealth of positive outcomes for this part of the world.  He wanted what our grandchildren will need.  One of the core curriculum for a President I work with is Elliot Jaques’ The Requisite Organization.   In delineating the need for different types of people at the various strata or levels in the enterprise, one differentiator is the time focus of the incumbent.  At the lowest levels, it is immediate.  At the highest level, it should be future.  And not just next year.  Mr. Lougheed was the perfect example.  At the highest level, you are setting the stage for an enabling distant future.  The prosperity of Alberta today is in many ways shaped by what his government put in place many years ago.
Not that he agreed with all that has come about.  His concern about the pace of development of the oil sands was expressed long ago.  “Why rush? We want to keep something in reserve for future generations.”  And tellingly – and expressed long ago – “The region is not ready.  The infrastructure is not there!”  The truth of his caution is very much with all those trying to work there.  Constraint is still the byword, even after years of boom activity there.  Still playing catch-up – and they’ll never get there.
Foresight is the capacity we’re talking about here.  Certainty, Urgency, Confidence – these are never part of foresight.  They are usually only found in the short term.
Foresight requires capitalizing and standing on intuition which in turn is developed out of reading the wind.  Foresight requires landing on a version of the likely future and shaping the present to be ready for that.  EPL had that in spades – with the chutzpah to act on it.  Was he right in every particular?  No, he wasn’t an oracle.  But he created more value and impact by acting on his version than he would have by waiting for the future to unfold and then reacting.  Welcome to our political present.
Courage is required to do this – to proceed when it is right and timely.  There will not be universal endorsement.  The positive polls came after the action not before.
But he did not act alone.  He was always a team player and judging by comments from his colleagues after his passing, it was strong inclusion and valuing of input that characterized his cabinet and his caucus.
So a magnificent actor leaves the stage with full and justified honor.  We who live here are so much better for having been led by him and are grateful to have been touched by his life.
He is a leadership example and template.  Taking these hallmarks in assessing any candidate for the head of the table would not be a mistake.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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