Having a title does not make a leader. Prime minister, pope, president – all of these positions bring with them a great deal of power and inherent respect, but they do not necessarily grant the title-holder the ability to lead well.
Leadership is not about position, leadership is an activity. Being an effective leader involves treating people with dignity and respect. It is about being a role model, coach, mentor and serving above self. Strong actions will give people confidence and encourage them to follow.
I watched the federal election with great interest and I contemplated whether Justin Trudeau was ready or not, and I judged him against other candidates. But as the election campaign carried on, I began to realize the subtle, yet powerful leadership attributes in the young Trudeau. He possesses natural leadership skills that engaged our country in a debate about who we are as Canadians and what we represent both domestically and on the international scene. He reminded us of what it means to be Canadian with his eternal optimism about the future, and his charismatic nature inspired our social conscience.
Prime Minister Trudeau, throughout the course of the campaign, did not engage in disparaging behaviours towards other candidates. He defended himself when necessary and remained strong when he was subject of personal attacks and ridicule. As the days moved closer to the election, there was a distinct shift in power. The results of the election shocked some, elated others and left all Canadians looking to the new Prime Minister to lead us into the future.
In his campaign, the soon-to-be elected prime minister made strong commitments to youth, seniors, veterans, immigrants and refugees, scientists, and to Canadians as a whole. Trudeau was relevant and he was inclusive.
He has officially been granted the title of prime minister, but this has not yet made him a successful leader. He will be faced with extremely difficult decisions, he will be challenged by international agendas and he will at some point, lead Canada through some form of crises. With the recent events in Paris, that crisis may be upon us now.
As the prime minister establishes himself as our leader, it is my hope that he maintains the core values he espoused during his election campaign. He showed himself to be an ethical man who values integrity, honesty and trust. He must never forget his roots, be humble and he must listen to others. As he is faced with challenges, we will learn whether he is a leader that will do the right thing and make decisions in the best interest of all Canadians.
In these early days, our prime minister has inspired us with his vision of what it means to be Canadian. I believe he has the necessary skills to lead this country, and Canadians have not only put their trust in him, but are looking to him with hope and optimism for the future.
Jim Cessford is the recently retired chief of the Delta Police Department and has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement.