Leaders require flexibility and adaptability: JLT Canada Public Sector Summit

War Child Canada founder shares her experiences

Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child Canada, described the traits required by great leaders at the JLT Canada Public Sector Summit on Friday.

“Leadership is a test of endurance,” she said. “To lead change, you have to be flexible and adaptive.”

Related: Criminals evolve, but crime remains the same: JLT Canada Public Sector Summit

Nutt shared some of her harrowing experiences doing humanitarian work in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, and urged attendees not to be discouraged when faced with adversity.

“If it’s hard, it’s because what you’re doing is important,” she said. “I’ve found, paradoxically, that when you feel you’re least equipped to face it, that’s when our leadership and participation is needed most of all.”

Listening to opposing viewpoints is also a key characteristic of great leaders, Nutt added.

“Our reflexive response—especially in this social media climate—is to shout rather than listen. Everything is an echo chamber. We tend to see the opposing side as somehow ignorant or self-interested or a barrier to progress,” she observed. “Active listening is the most effective communication strategy in any given field. If you’re not getting anywhere, take the time to identify [your] allies, the people who can help you get the message out.”

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