A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Jim Diodati, Mayor of Niagara Falls (pictured below), speak at a leadership event. One point of his keynote address was the importance of retaining the graduates from Niagara College and Brock University in order to diversify, revitalize and enhance the Niagara Region’s economy and culture. I couldn’t agree more; we are fortunate to have these reputable institutions within our region, providing quality education to both Canadian and international students, and we want that wealth of knowledge to stick around and plant their roots here. The question is, how do we achieve this?

jim diodati

Of course, there is more than one answer to this question. Affordable housing, improved infrastructure and transportation, or tax incentives are all great things that would attract individuals with businesses or families. But it takes a lot more than roadway construction to improve the future of Niagara; it’s all about leadership. Leadership (good or bad) can impact everything from employee engagement to the bottom line, which is attractive to potential new employees or entrepreneurs.

We need great leaders to support and mentor the individuals who will come to be the future leaders of Niagara. For myself, the best development opportunities I’ve had were through my mentors. Some were more formal, through a mentorship program, where others were just individuals I was drawn to for personal or professional reasons and I was able to learn through osmosis. A good leader invests in others because they know that the success of their protégés is an extension of their own success. We can then hope that the recipients of this support will remember the kindness and support that was shown to them and pass it along to their own protégé, in an endless leadership development cycle.

We need great leaders who promote a culture of positivity and potential. We know that Niagara is focused on growth and development. Let’s talk about what’s going well. Let’s talk about how we can make good things even better. Let’s showcase Niagara as a place that is full of potential and full of great people who are ready to make Niagara shine. As leaders, show your audience that you believe in them, that you believe in your cause and that all things are possible through hard work and vision.

We need leaders who talk straight, listen well and are accountable. Good communication is the most important indicator of success in any relationship, whether romantic or professional. Keep strategies and expectations clear. Give constructive feedback in a way that allows for growth. Share the facts and speak the truth. Listen to the needs, wants and desires of those around you. As a leader, if you’re not having these crucial conversations directly with your team, chances are they’re happening behind your back.

The great news is that we already have these great leaders in Niagara. We just need to come out, shine and reach our full potential, so we can help others achieve theirs.

This is my challenge to all of Niagara’s leaders;

Invest in yourself and develop your leadership skills. Invest in others to let them grow. Be positive and live positive. Communicate better. Let the world know that Niagara’s institutions, businesses and corporations boast great leadership, high engagement and positive profits.

Because at the end of the day when someone looks to their leader to show them the path, we want to ensure that the path leads them home to Niagara.

What do you think?  Will effective leaders and role models make a difference here in niagara in your opinion?

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