VULNERABILITY = STRENGTH: The RCMP Commissioner on authentic leadership - Institute on Governance

VULNERABILITY = STRENGTH: The RCMP Commissioner on authentic leadership

2 minute read

“I am exactly where I need to be for my organization right now,” said RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki at an event on January 8 at the IOG, noting that the most important thing for public organizations is to be ready to adapt to the inevitable change of the 21stCentury; the RCMP is no exception.

“The public sector cannot afford to be slow and static,” she said. “It must be ready to make dynamic adjustments to keep pace with the rapidly-changing world.”

Speaking to participants in the IOG’s signature Executive Leadership Development Program, as well as colleagues from Stepping into the Executive Cadre, Commissioner Lucki added a quote she heard during a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations: “You can’t drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror.”

However, remembering the past is important, she noted. “The Government of Canada has a troubled past with Canada’s Indigenous peoples,” she said. “And the RCMP was often the purveyor of that trouble.” She reminded her audience that the RCMP was also one of the last police forces in the world to include women in its ranks. “These realities shape the context in which the RCMP operates, but they must not be dwelled upon without simultaneous reconciliatory progress.”

The Commissioner also reflected on some other issues that have impacted her organization. “The RCMP has learned that it must be better at dealing with internal conflict,” she admitted. “Many public sector organizations, including the RCMP, do good external work that is in the public interest, but they fail to effectively manage their own internal issues.”

She said that this inhibits possible change within an organization, something she demonstrated with a powerful exercise. She began by asking everyone present to stand; then she went through various demographic factors such as gender, age, marital status, ethnicity, until everyone was seated. Based on these factors, nobody in the room would have been eligible to serve in the RCMP some 50 years ago, compared with today, where almost everyone in that room would be eligible to serve. “This shows that the public sector is capable of change,” and as we saw, “that change is already occurring.”

Born and raised in Edmonton, Commissioner Lucki joined the RCMP in August 1986. Throughout her career, she served all across Canada and internationally, contributing to various parts of the RCMP, such as: federal policing, undercover criminal investigations, peacekeeping, traffic services, and community policing. She also served on the United Nations Protection Force, and was an instructor at the RCMP Training Academy where, in 2016, she was named Commanding Officer. On March 9, 2018 it was announced that she would become Canada’s 24thRCMP Commissioner, and the first female to hold the position.

Commissioner Lucki has learned that, ultimately, a leader should strive to accomplish three things: (1) make a workplace better than it was when you arrive; (2) take care of yourself so that you can (3) take care of others.

“Vulnerability is a strength,” she said. “A leader should be authentic and open to criticism: it improves both their own character and the overall strength of the organization.”

She left those current and future public service leaders in the room with a positive takeaway: the RCMP – and the public service as a whole – must look ahead with optimism while remembering the context in which it works. This seems to be something Commander Lucki has lived by her whole career.

You May Also Be Interested In

IOG Featured Image
Future of Work – Talent Retention & Trust

With guest contribution from David Scouler, Managing Director at CultureRx.

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
We Need to Change Our Conversations on Societal Infrastructure

With contribution from IOG Fellow Dr. Sara Filbee. We are

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
Future of Work – Hybrid Workplaces

With contribution from John Penhale. This blog post is the

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
Conduct during elections: The principle of ‘restraint’

During federal elections, the fair city of Ottawa experiences an

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
NEW PRESIDENT AND CEO APPOINTED FOR INSTITUTE ON GOVERNANCE

Aurele Theriault, Chair of the Board of Directors of the

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
Future of Work – A Dispersed Workforce

This is our third post in our series on Future

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
We Need to Change Our Conversations on Societal Infrastructure – PART II

With contribution from IOG Fellow Dr. Sara Filbee. This article

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
The Emergencies Act: The End of the Affair?

The declaration of a public order emergency under the Emergencies

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
REACTION – Team Canada Arrives Home

Canada’s best athletes returned to Canada from the Winter Olympics

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
REFLECTION – Co-Management Defined

With contribution from Sam Wells. The process of reconciliation between

Learn More
IOG Featured Image
REACTION: A Governance Lens on the Emergencies Act

When the Emergencies Act was invoked on February 14th, this

Learn More