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Methodology of research


The goal was to gather a representative sample from all sectors and regions and to portray the diversity of the Canadian population.  Two key groups were selected for they were likely to have expertise on this topic:

295 successful leaders in all sectors of the economy:

  • Artistic/entertainment/media/communications: artists, broadcasters, producers, artistic directors, CEOs, etc.
  • Business (for profit); small, medium-sized and large corporations: CEOs, COOs, vice presidents, directors, Board chairs, entrepreneurs, etc. Co-op leaders were also included in this section.
  • Community (not for profit); charity, advocacy organizations: executive directors, activists, philanthropists, community workers, advocates, etc.
  • Public sector; all levels of government: federal, provincial, regional and municipal governments; para-public entities – Crown corporations, hospitals, education, social agencies. This included: senior public servants, politicians, ministers, directors, etc.
  • Sports (professional and amateur): athletes, Olympians, coaches, administrators, etc.

66 leadership development professionals involved in designing, delivering and managing programs across the country

  • Community organizations
  • Consulting firms
  • Co-ops
  • Corporations
  • Institutes
  • Public sector institutions
  • Sports federations and associations
  • Universities
  • Youth organizations


A structured interview guide was designed for each group and they were piloted with leaders and professionals known to the authors. Respondents provided useful feedback to simplify and optimize the questionnaires. Pre-set formats helped with consistency in data collection.

The primary goal with this group was to identify the developmental strategies they found most useful. To establish a common ground, they were asked to define leadership and to identify what they value most in leaders.

This was crucial to establish a common baseline and understand the foundations of their leadership practice before getting into their leadership development journey, and obtain subsequent advice for developing leaders.

Finally, it was important to get their thoughts on Canadian leadership and their recommendations to strengthen it.

Experts were asked what works best to grow leaders, and how their programs evolved over time to maximize effectiveness. The interview guide dealt with program start-up and evolution, contents, audience, intended and actual outcomes, key learnings, and recommendations.

As data collection evolved, a pattern emerged. Interviewees were consistently saying that the type of leadership poised to succeed in the 21st century is democratic, predicated on influence versus authority, able to rally diverse constituencies in a cohesive and productive manner, concerned with community well-being and seeking to give back. Other critical success factors include a focus on the long term and on sustainable development and outcome evaluation with integrated metrics going beyond simple numbers.

This type of leadership is practised in co-operatives through their ideological foundation, governance principles and infrastructure. Therefore, co-op representatives were included:  both leaders and program experts.

To reflect co-op realities, a slightly different interview guide was used for program experts. A representative sample of various sizes and types was assembled in many sectors across the country, as well as federations and associations. This yielded two specific chapters on best practices in the co-op environment.


Canada is a vast and diverse country. It was important to recruit participants mirroring the Canadian population.

The following regions are represented:

  • Atlantic (Newfoundland, PEI, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia)
  • Quebec
  • Ontario
  • The Prairies (Saskatchewan, Alverta and Manitoba)
  • British Columbia
  • The North (Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut).

People from all regions and sectors of the economy were included:

  • Men and women
  • Anglophones and Francophones
  • Aboriginals
  • Representatives from various ethnic backgrounds including visible minorities
  • People with disabilities
  • Leaders were of all ages: some in early stages of their career, some in mid-career, and others retired but still playing an active leadership role in their community.

Candidate selection
The objective was to access people who make a significant difference in their field or community. Therefore, authors sought to achieve a balanced a mix of inspiring high profilers and ‘local heroes’ that readers can identify with, learn from and emulate.

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