Sunday, April 24, 2005

Martin Needs A Rabbit Hat Trick

When the chips are down, great leadership has the opportunity to shine. Can Paul Martin reach into his well of determination and imagination to demonstrate great leadership? It is possible if, in his mind, he believes that he can and must do it. From that point of belief, provided he never wavers, the likelihood of pulling a rabbit out of a hat increases dramatically.

Why bother though? First, the majority of Canadians do not want an election in the near future. Instead we want action that transcends party lines. It’s time to get beyond policy and execute as that, in the end, is the true final measure of great leadership—getting things done. Secondly, this spinning of wheels as a nation doesn’t help us “eat”. All parties are responsible to us to keep the momentum going on tackling the big issues that stand in the way of Canada thriving in a globalized world.

Take two policy items, the National Child Care Program and financial support needed by our cities and towns to repair and maintain their crumbling infrastructures. Applying the 80:20 rule, the decades of debates are finished, the consensus is in---let’s get on with it. If the budget does not pass, both are in jeopardy. The consequences of postponing action on these and other issues far outweigh the value to our country of bringing the federal government down over a sponsorship scandal.

In our short history, minority governments have forged many great “deals” that have benefited our lives. With no one party having the balance of power, our political leaders are forced to dig more deeply to identify and stand up for their beliefs while taking into account that which is best for the nation. They are compelled to enter into joint discussions and debates both on and off the record that cause them to find common ground despite philosophical differences. Decades of research on creativity and innovation have taught us that better solutions typically emerge under such circumstances. If our members of parliament today choose to leverage the opportunity for collaboration as did their mentors before them, they will leave an enduring legacy.

Today, that future legacy falls most heavily on Paul Martin’s shoulders. Rather than simply asking his political opponents to wait until the facts are in on the Gomery inquiry, why not also invite them to join with him in moving some critical national agenda items forward now? Why not get them inspired about the significance of the opportunity to affect Canada’s future positively, a chance that may be fleeting and not return for some time to come regardless of who is in office?

But, Martin can’t do this alone. The great leadership opportunity is available for all the party leaders to pursue. Should they conspire to take the government down prematurely without a real attempt at consensus, each will bear the burden of failing Canada.

Although not easy to see, a critical “tipping point” is facing us: which way will it go? Deng Ming-Dao’s famous quote applies: “A deviation of a hair’s breath at the center leads to an error of a hundred miles at the rim”. Great leaders manage the tipping point, the seemingly innocuous, small change in direction in the present time that can have a domino affect (positive or negative) for generations to come. This is the rabbit in the hat trick that now confronts Prime Minister Martin. This is the opportunity of legacy that his political colleagues face also. Will egos or great leadership direct the way?

A demonstration of great leadership may not save the day in the long run for Paul Martin. It is highly likely we will go to the polls before his formal time as Prime Minister is up. Let the chips fall where they may. However, if he can, at this pivotal time in our nation’s evolution, put his leadership acumen in overdrive, he may succeed in fulfilling the role for which he was elected—making Canada a better place. By persuading his political foes to postpone the election and instead to roll the ball forward on items already in the works, admittedly with some changes to suit all factions, Canada’s “flywheel” of accomplishments at home and on the world stage will gain not lose momentum.

No comments: