Every once in a while I dust off a favorite book or training manual to see what I may have forgotten that could help me and perhaps help inspire our team in our current economic and competitive environment.
Jack Trout, Jack Welsh and others come to mind as they have studied the habits of great companies however last weekend was one of those occasions where I stumbled onto a leadership program that I attended with the Torstar Media Group in 2001 . I was struck by some of the similarities in the world economy and how this particular company chose to deal with a recession and an ever changing media landscape.
Not only did Torstar reinvent their newspaper business but they also jumped into the internet with over 30 “start-ups” including a new television station with a view to create a third “leg” and find new opportunities for their predominately print organization.
They also invested significantly in training for the their managment team throughout the organization as part of a two year commitment to an intensive training program. This began with the vision of their VP of Human Resources, Karen Hanna who organized a cadre of amazing trainers from around the world.
It began with an Australian, Yvonne Evans who had a new integrated performance model called “Position 3” to help develop personal greatness along with teams from the Centre for Creative Leadership in the US, the Rotman School of Business and others. The materials and circulim were traditional as well as unique and customized to the challenges facing each of us personaly as well as the company.
David Galloway and John Honderich’s leadership led the way with a clear commitment to an unknown future. In a corporate address they recognized that with an increasingly competitive global economy and more demanding customers, that more was expected from their senior managers and they made it a priority to enhance their strategic and leadership abilities throughout the company.
In their words, “The success of our Company in the next five to ten years will depend on the leaders who are developed today”.
Unlike many companies that retreat, pull back or “turtle” in tough times, Torstar invested in creativity and personal development with the belief that they would strengthen their ability to compete in the years ahead. I suppose that could be why Torstar is still one of the top picks along with Canadian Satellite Radio by TD Securities in 2012.
Like Torstar, Astral, The Kauffmann Foundation and many other “great” organizations that support and encourage creativity and entrepreneurism, there is hope that businesses, individuals and our world will evolve, grow and prosper. I remain optimistic in the human spirit!