I’m Karen McCrimmon, Member of Parliament for Kanata-Carleton and Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Transport.
Before politics, I had a 31 year career with the Canadian Armed Forces. I achieved a lot of firsts like being the first woman navigator and the first woman to command a Royal Canadian Airforce Flying squadron where we flew thousands of missions at home and around the world.
I learned a lot about leadership and teamwork during that time too! Perhaps the most significant is that leadership is something that can be practiced every day…in every situation. It isn’t a rank or a position…it’s a choice we make every day. Leadership is about serving other…it’s about building relationships...building teams...building confidence and building trust. I think that this building work of collaborative leadership is ideally suited to women…as this kind of leadership requires the skills of communication, selflessness and strong relationships. Areas in which women might have a natural advantage!
I also learned that you will never have leadership without trust. To earn the trust of others…you have to be true to yourself. If people don’t believe you are genuine, you will never earn their trust.
To earn trust, you have to do more than your share of the tough slogging, have the courage to address the tough issues but at the same time practice kindness, inclusion and generosity.
One of the finest leaders I have ever met was Gloria Hewson…she was my secretary at 429 Squadron. Everyone knew that Gloria was there for them, she worked tirelessly to make things better for everyone and she earned the trust and respect of everyone on the squadron. No one ever wanted to disappoint Gloria because to the people on that squadron, her opinion of them mattered. She set an example of service, caring and generosity that made her a leader in that unit!
So…I am going to suggest to you that you choose to be a leader…Choose to set the example, choose to serve others, choose to create an environment where kindness, inclusion and excellence are the norm. Leaders can make a huge difference in the lives of others…choose to be that leader…Believe me…you have what it takes!
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2018 International Women's Day