What's Behind the 'Real Change' Phenomenon?

Well, here we are in Canada, with the new Trudeau Government's massive 'real change' program underway at home and around the globe, while the U.S. Presidential marathon - only a month shy of he Iowa caucuses - well underway. What ties these election campaigns together is one thing -  the desire for 'real change'.
Canada's new Parliament with the Liberals firmly in power, met for their first Question Period today, and it's a preview of what is to come. A change in policies and, one hopes, a change in tone. My preview of the expected changes in Question Period are quoted in this CBC News article.
Once every generation, comes a tidal wave of change in the political world - in Canada, that was 1968 when Pierre Trudeau brought massive change to Canada - in politics, public policy, and style. In 1984 it was Brian Mulroney.
In 1960, it was John F. Kennedy who woke America up after the sleepy Eisenhower '50s with panache and vision. In 1980 it was Ronald Reagan. In 2008 it was Barack Obama.
The  Tidal Wave Hits Canada
Flash forward to 2015 and that huge tidal wave is crashing into    the world of politics in both Canada and the United States. Justin Trudeau, leader of the third party, put together a platform and a campaign strategy that swept into power, understanding that desire for 'real change' - not just in the  'what' but the 'how' of politics and policies.
The Speech from the Throne, the agenda setter for the next year or two of Parliament, was titled, 'Making Real Change Happen'. That pretty well says it all. From middle class tax cuts, to taxing the rich, to climate change and many social issues, the 'change' agenda is underway.
The Tidal Wave Hits the U.S.
A 'steal' from Ronald Reagan
In the Presidential race, Donald Trump is able to throw caution (and common sense) to the wind and double down on the 'hard right' side of almost every issue. He has been leading the Republican race for months by throwing conventional wisdom on its ear and catering to the (primary--voting) Republican base. The latest example includes today's announcement that he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country.
It feeds on - and feeds - racist stereotypes that the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks have intensified.
Not the real Larry David

And on the farthest side of the political spectrum from Trump is Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) (a.k.a. Larry David) who has channeled the public's antipathy to 'politics as usual' into becoming a contender for the Democratic nomination.

Four years ago, who would have thought that either man would be a serious contender for the nominations of their parties?
What's Behind the 'Real Change' Phenomenon?
1. A feeling that 'politics as usual' has led the world to the mess that we're in. This would include global issues such as climate change and Syria. Both are huge generators of demand for real change for the left and the right.
2. The randomness of the home grown ISIL terrorist attacks has brought the specter of fear home to roost. In Canada, it's a much lower-grade 'concern' as the public aren't arming themselves in anticipation of Armegeddon. However, their concern about security was loud enough that the Trudeau government was forced to do a minor 'pivot' on their promise to bring over 25,000 Syrian refugees by December 31st, 2015. Instead, they moved the deadline to the end of February 2016 to ensure that the security checks would be thoroughly conducted. By listening and shifting accordingly, the public will forgive such a move.
3. Safe, 'moderate' politicians seem so yesterday. In the Canadian election, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, leading in the polls, positioned himself as a 'safe' balanced budget kind of social democrat in order to buffer himself from the wild 'tax and spend' accusations that would rein down on him and his party. Justin Trudeau, sensing that was the wrong way to go, adeptly moved to the 'left' of him on the economy -  promising deficits of $10 billion annually - as well as on social issues (legalizing marijuana). Trudeau became the most viable and strongest 'alternative' to the status quo (Stephen Harper's Conservatives). In the U.S. Presidential race, Hillary Clinton made the mistake of calling herself a 'moderate' not that long ago. She quickly re-booted herself as a 'progressive' because that is the voting base of the Democrats. It also ensured that there would be no more slippage to Sanders. It seems to have worked. [Also Canadians noticed how often Tom Mulcair now invokes the word progressive' - alas, since the election.]
4. Social media has created numerous communities of interest who connect with each other, realize they have a voice, and have the channels to be heard. This has escalated in the past four years to the point where every age group is spending endless hours every day of online socializing, consuming and sharing information. It has, of course, a dark downside - as, for example, a recruiting ground for terrorists. But it also has the power to create huge waves of change - from the Arab Spring, to Ukraine, to those who felt that no one was listening and that they had no voice.
5. A charismatic leader who can focus and ride that wave of change with vision, energy and a tone of optimism for the future. Barack Obama in 2008 came out of nowhere to take the Presidency by storm, combining many of the elements identified above. Unlike Sanders and Trump, who are highly unlikely to win the Presidency, Obama was able to secure the nomination and broaden his appeal to grab the undecideds and swing voters, which put him over the top.

Charisma isn't enough - nor is any one of these components. It takes strategy and near-perfect execution. The Trudeau campaign put all of that together, and now they have the ability to follow through on their promises. Oh, and the fastest way to lose that mantle of leadership? Fail to follow through on your promises!

So, welcome to the world of 'real change'. It's not going away anytime soon.

Until next time!
P.S. If you're interested in our Encountering the Media®, Getting Your Ideas Across® or Overcoming Panic and Fear: Risk and Crisis Communications in-house programs, just visit McLoughlin Media
For how to lead organizations and teams through change, with our leadership and coaching programs, visit TransformLeaders.ca


Trudeau sweeps the country - how he did it?

Here we are the morning after the end of the longest Canadian federal election campaign in modern history. The election of a majority Liberal government in a profound change in the style and attitude to government, the media, and the policies and priorities of government. How did Justin Trudeau and his team do it?
Three years ago, I wrote my blog post, Prime Minister Trudeau? Possibly. In the piece I gave five reasons why he could very likely win the election - in spite of the fact that he was still just a candidate for the Liberal leadership. I review them today, not to say, 'I told you so', but to use them as a basis for understanding why he has gone from zero to the steps of 24 Sussex Dr. (the house where he lived as a child).
Much of it has come true. The single greatest reason, is 'time for a change' became not only dominant, but thanks to a very strategic and well-executed campaign, Trudeau was able to successfully position himself and his party as the clearest choice for change. After a decade in power, the tidal wave of 'change' takes out most political parties.
Stephen Harper was intent on positioning himself as 'stability vs. risk'. No matter how he tried to execute that theme to his favour, it didn't work. The 'niqab' issue was raw meat for the Conservative base and for Quebecers but it ended up shifting votes away from Tom Mulcair and the NDP in Quebec - over to the Bloc, and even the Conservatives.
Trudeau's opposition to Harper on the niqab issue didn't really hurt him, as he had little to lose in Quebec and everything to gain by the NDP slide.
Overwhelmingly, Justin Trudeau resonated with the voters - 70% of whom wanted change. He echoed their frustration with the status quo; he filled in his policy blanks with an unexpected shift to the left of Mulcair on the economy (although Mulcair hotly disputes that). The bold, but easily accessible commitment to $10 billion annual deficits, combined with his 'tax the rich' policy not only didn't hurt him, but was the key to his successful re-positioning from a middle-of-the-road 'all things to all people' position of the past to a strong alternative to Stephen Harper's increasingly 'double down' strategy to secure and animate the 'right' side of the political spectrum.
Trudeau continually exceeded expectations in most of the debates, and thanks to the steady Conservative airwar of 'He's just not ready' ads, he not only exceeded expectations, but scored several hits on Tom Mulcair in some of the debates. In my post-debate analyses on CPAC, CTV and other media interviews, I found myself saying consistently that Trudeau exceeded expectations, and would benefit the most from them.
The lingering strategic question, is 'why didn't the Conservatives try to reach an additional 5% of the voters'? That is a voter segment that is a 'disruptive' target. Meaning, that whatever appeals to the first 32% (the base) is anathema to them. These would be known as the '10 second Tories', or the Red Tories -more socially 'progressive' but fiscally conservative - who would have made the difference between failure and success. So-called 'dog whistle' politics, as embodied by roiling the 'niqab' waters, could never have reached that critical voter segment.
The inking of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) came late in the race and has not been disclosed in sufficient detail to make it into a  critical 'pocket book' issue for those voters. Ironically, all that the NDP and the Conservatives could do in the final days was to hammer the TPP from opposite sides in order to cement their own ballot questions. Trudeau deftly dealt with it, saying 'I'm pro free trade but we have to see the deal first'.
The last minute flare up of a 'scandal' involving a senior official providing advice to an energy company client, was the last gasp effort of both the Conservatives and the NDP but it came too late in the campaign, and it just didn't gain traction.
What can be learned out of the Trudeau victory?
1. When the voters are feeling anxious, don't give them fear, give them hope.
2. Engage the voters and the media. Stop hiding from debates (Conservative candidates seemed to send a signal to their voters that they didn't want to face them, or be accountable to them). And yes, the media can hurt you but when you start blaming them for your problems, it's more Nixon than Reagan.
3. Understand what leadership today is all about. It's about listening, consulting, developing a consensus, generosity of spirit, empowering and trusting others. Trudeau projected a leadership aura that gave people an optimistic sense of the future. All successful leaders have done that - FDR, Churchill, Kennedy, Reagan, Mulroney, Chretien, Jack Layton, to name but a few.
4. 'Fresh and new' with a bold agenda for change can trump experience, status quo policies with not much new being promised for the future.
5. To go past ten years in office is possible, but it's a narrow window to get through, and can only be done with a clear narrative and a strategy brilliantly executed over a number of years.
6. Campaigns matter! The third place Liberals at the beginning of the campaign were transformed through the 78 day campaign into a party and a leader that the public is willing to trust for the next four years.
Regardless of anyone's political leanings, that is an accomplishment worthy of the history books.

Until next time.....thank you to all candidates from all the parties who got involved and had the courage to run - all of whom want a better country. A big recognition to the voters who turned out in record numbers (the most since 1993) to cast their ballots. It's great for democracy and a sign of hope for the future.


Communicate with Power®: John F. Kennedy's Transformational Leadership

Communicate with Power®: John F. Kennedy's Transformational Leadership: Welcome back! My thoughts on what makes for a transformational leader, "Where have all the leaders gone?" Looking forward to launching our new transformational leadership series of seminar/workshops July 13th to 16th: http://www.transformleaders.ca/courses
"For those of you wondering where my blog has been in recent months, in my off-hours (which are always at a premium) I have be...


John F. Kennedy's Transformational Leadership

Welcome back!
For those of you wondering where my blog has been in recent months, in my off-hours (which are always at a premium) I have been incredibly busy. Besides doing our media and communications seminars in Jamaica, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Toronto, Winnipeg, and many other places, Laura and I have been busy starting a brand new venture on leadership development. We are partnering with Al Albania, John Westbrook and their team at Acart Communications (www.acart.ca)  to form a new company, www.TransformLeaders.ca

With this partnership, we provide a series of leadership seminars, combined with online tools and follow-up coaching. We will be continuing our McLoughlin Media company, of course!  This new company builds on our two companies' combined decades of experience in communications training, leadership counsel, strategic branding, advertising and social media marketing.

Of course, we will be continuing our McLoughlin Media company along with the media training seminars and communications counselling services that we offer. (www.mcloughlinmedia.com)

So why start a new company?
The world is rapidly changing and increasingly challenging. Every industry sector is affected by the global marketplace. Consumers are not only incredibly demanding, but, more importantly, can purchase their products and services wherever and whenever they want. Regulatory regimes, international trade agreements, taxpayers' demands and clients' expectations are transforming governments everywhere. What it takes to be a leader today is markedly different from years gone by - when one's position was enough to command respect. Change is transformational - and is everywhere, is disrupting entire industries as well as the way in which people work. What people want in their leaders has undergone a revolution.

Laura and I - along with our team - realized that more and more of our work involved developing and delivering what are the essential building blocks of today's leadership requirements.

At a time of intense focus on the need by organizations to develop leaders, we, in turn, laid the groundwork for this new venture during the past several years, taking courses at the Harvard Business School in 'Teaching the Case Study Method'; as Adjunct Professors at Carleton University, and working with political, corporate, union, government and Association leaders throughout North America and elsewhere.

In our Transformational Leadership Program we have developed the curriculum based on our own experience, the best practices of clients and thought leaders around the world.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Where have all the leaders gone?
Fifty two years ago last week, President John F. Kennedy delivered two speeches on back-to-back days which changed the course of history. On June 10th, 1963 his American University commencement address sent a very different message to the Soviet Union leadership that it was time to explore avenues to peace - which ultimately led to the Test Ban Treaties over nuclear arms. The next evening, June 11th,  Kennedy's speech to the nation about the vow by Alabama Governor George Wallace's to block the entry of two African-American students to enrol in the University of Alabama.
Just a few weeks ago, I attended a book club gathering, in which the guest speaker, Andrew Cohen, author of Two Days in June, spoke about John F. Kennedy's leadership on those two important speeches of his presidency. Kennedy went on national television with only a few hours notice and spoke to the American people  about why such racism was completely unacceptable in American society.
His speech set the table for the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act by Lyndon Johnson. As Cohen so brilliantly captures on an hour-by-hour reenactment over those 48 hours, Kennedy not only inspired a nation, he changed the world.
Of course, we don't have to be Presidents in order to become a leader that has the ability to transform a company, government agency or even our work units. We can all play a leadership role in our organizations, our communities and in our daily lives. Developing the skills sets, strengthening one's knowledge and understanding of others are critical to achieving our leadership capacity.
The world today is looking for transformational leadership. 
Everywhere we turn today, people are experiencing  transformational change - at work, in society, and in their communities. With change comes anxiety. With anxiety comes division. With division comes conflict. With conflict comes the need for leadership. Leadership that will not just tell them what to do, but engage them in the quest for solutions.
Leadership Qualities of John F. Kennedy
What were the leadership qualities that JFK exhibited on those two days?
JFK Civil Rights Speech 06/11/1963
1. He took risks.
Interestingly enough, John F. Kennedy received lots of diplomatic - as well as political - advice not to proceed on the paths he had chosen. Yet he took a risk - less than 18 months before the 1964 election.
2. He took the long view.
The challenge for political leaders is similar in one sense to CEOs of publicly traded companies. With the need to meet the market's quarterly expectations, taking the long view is rarely rewarded if those quarterly earnings aren't what analysts expected. Yet leadership is taking the long view. Short term wins at the expense of long-term thinking is a prescription for disaster.
3. He focused on people.
JFK American U. Speech 06/10/1963
In his American University speech, he reached out to both the American and Soviet people. He sought to humanize them, and that was rarely done at the height of the cold war.
"And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."
4. He communicated a clear vision. 
Leaders can't blame the voters. CEOs can't blame analysts, shareholders or consumers. So, it isn't about blame. It's about the ability to see the big picture (vision), to be guided by values, listening, having a sense of priorities, and communicating effectively.
As described in this New York Times op-ed by Prof. Peniel E. Joseph:
"...for the first time, [he] called [racism] a “moral issue.” It seems obvious today that civil rights should be spoken of in universal terms, but at the time many white Americans still saw it as a regional, largely political question. And yet here was the leader of the country, asking “every American, regardless of where he lives,” to “stop and examine his conscience.”

In both those speeches - at American University on June 10th, 1963 and in his televised speech to the nation (the last few minutes of which were ad-libbed) on June 11th, Kennedy spoke to the higher aspirations, and deeply held moral views of the American people.

Although he was assassinated less than six months later (and we learned he was far from a perfect man); nevertheless, Kennedy's legacy of leadership lives on today.

Barry J. McLoughlin, Senior Partner and Co-founder
TransformLeaders.ca Build Your Brand from the Inside Out
Check out our upcoming seminars here:



6 Realities of the Duffy Trial

Senator Duffy Goes to Trial
Yesterday marked the opening day of the trial of Canada's best known suspended Senator, Mike Duffy. This 41 day trial, is gearing up to be a the highest-rated criminal trial in recent history. The media saturation coverage of their former broadcasting colleague guarantees that the trial will be a huge distraction for the electorate as the Harper government is trying to close the deal with voters in the run-up to the October election. As someone who has provided communications counsel on some political 'high profile' criminal trials (Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien) and Commissions of Inquiry (the Oliphant Commission of Inquiry into Mulroney/Schreiber), I have some thoughts on the realities of this trial.
6 Realities of the Duffy Trial
Although it's a bit of a mug's game to predict outcomes in any criminal trial - and  I certainly won't -  it is interesting to deduce what we can about the impacts and outcomes of this trial:
1. It's not a 'slam dunk' for the Crown. After the first day, it does seem pretty unlikely that Mr. Duffy can emerge from this trial without some of those charges sticking. After all, it took 13 minutes just to read the list of charges! However, it will prove difficult for the prosecution to reach the bar of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' on a number of those 31 criminal charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. Assume that half of them will be thrown over the side  as that bar will prove elusive to reach. If this were a civil suit, 'the balance of probabilities' bar would be much more achievable.
2. 'A wrinkle a day' can do more damage than one bad day. There may be no 'smoking gun' about the Prime Minister's knowledge of his former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright's cutting a cheque for $90,000. The damage will be in the form of 'a wrinkle a day' of bad news for the Harper government over the course of Mr. Duffy's carefully orchestrated defence strategy. His lawyer, Don Bayne is clearly brilliant at what he does and is positively surgical in his strategy and tactics. Expect to see numerous incisive cuts, jabs and twisting of the knife as he gives Mr. Duffy a powerful defence.
3. Stephen Harper may be the real beneficiary of the media tendency to 'overkill'.  It happened with the Rob Ford soap opera last year which triggered a backlash among voters who didn't want to hear any more about him, and they seemed to close their minds about any further criticism of Mr. Ford. It's hard to sustain 41 days of compelling interest in this story - except for the issue fanatics, commentators and journalists - who will be deeply fascinated by every twist and turn. Stephen Harper's base has already made up their mind about what they think of Mike Duffy. So the real battle is the not-so-committed voter who may - or may not - find the Duffy trial all that fascinating or may take a 'pox on all their houses' attitude to politicians.
4. Stephen Harper needs to manage public expectations. The media - and large segments of the population - expect him to be bloodied and battered by this - and if it turns out to be far less than expected, he may survive intact just by staying cool and continuing with his own agenda. That was evident yesterday when the Harper Government attempted to 'change the channel' for voters by making some pre-budget announcements. Although such news-making efforts are rarely successful at cancelling out the 'bad' news; nevertheless, watch for the Harper government to counter the trial's narrative with one of their own - heavily focused on the economy.
5. Leave the prosecution for the Crown. The Opposition Leader, Tom Mulcair, has a chance to return to his prosecutorial style of attack in Question Period throughout the Duffy trial. This will give him a chance to recover some of the ground he has lost to Justin Trudeau. He knows that Mr. Trudeau's attacks are rarely as effective as his. He must know by now that the voter rarely falls in love with the prosecutor. However, both of them have to be cautious about getting in the way of the story emerging from the Ottawa courthouse a few blocks away. If Mulcair and Trudeau get too 'hot' or outraged over the daily trial news, they will merely look partisan and ineffective. Sometimes humour is the best way to inflict some damage.

6. Why not have some fun with it? The NDP didn't waste time in poking fun at Sen. Nancy Ruth and her inopportune comments about the Auditor General daring to question her about her expense claims for breakfast on the mornings that she would be on board a plane. She told a 'scrum' of reporters, in high dudgeon that she had breakfast because she had to suffer the outrage of "cold Camembert and broken crackers". (Although the clip of her on TV pronouncing Mike Duffy 'guilty' was that much more delicious than the Camembert.)

So, yes it's fascinating to follow - even on Twitter - which is how I did it yesterday. Mr. Duffy will take a pummelling, of course. Mr. Harper will be hurt, but he will have over four months to try to recover. There will be enough pain to go around, but the greatest pain recipient will be the Senate, which has absorbed so many hits to its reputation that now an openly hostile public wants to see it eliminated.

In the meantime.....we've got the Masters this weekend....and the Senators are still alive (the hockey version that is:) so life can't be all that bad!

Until next time.....
Follow me on Twitter @mclomedia where I will be - what else? Tweeting on the trial and other matters.


Time to clear the decks

Happy New Year!
 Now that we are all rested and recovered from a bruising year, it's time to turn our attention to 2015 and what may be in the cards politically. This is the time of year when consultants, journalists and social media aficionados routinely make predictions about what the future holds. I am going to resist the temptation to forecast, as it's a mug's game, at best.
However, I think it's worthwhile to examine some of the tectonic shifts, and offer cues and tips which can provide some guidance going forward. I have done a few media interviews on the subject recently and here is one of them on Global TV's The West Block. In that interview, my emphasis was on the key question that most winning leaders have to address, namely "who speaks for me?". In elections, that means the middle class, who are the big 'get'.
Clearing the decks
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party are clearing the decks for the scheduled October 2015 election. Today he took care of two headaches that were soaking up too much media coverage and damaging his brand.
Shuffling Minister Fantino
The first one - he shuffled Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino out of that post where he had alienated many veterans' groups - over to Associate Minister of National Defence. This removes him from further attacks and puts him back in a portfolio where he has already served and is definitely lower profile. Mr. Harper's pick, Ontario MP Erin O'Toole, who has an Air Force background, is known as a good, solid communicator with an emotional intelligence that is critically important to the task at hand.


Harper v. Wynne Face-Off  on 'Hockey Night in Canada'
The second 'clearing of the decks' is that the Prime Minister is (finally) meeting with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne - with whom he hasn't met in over a year. The fact that he's squeezing it in before he attends the World Junior Hockey Championship between Canada and Russia, he hopes might remind voters of the highlight of his year: his retort to Vladimir Putin, "I guess I'll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you -  you need to get out of Ukraine".
The key message underlying this move is to demonstrate that he can get along with others of a different stripe, and in Wynne's case, someone who had used him as a punching bag in that election campaign.

It's the Economy, Stupid 
He needs to turn most of the debate back to the economy, and with oil falling below $50 US, it will be good news for consumers, but bad news for the federal government's revenues (as it is for Alberta). So, even though the longer he waits to call the election, the bigger that deficit promises to be. However, Mr. Harper knows his core brand is the economy and his preferred ballot question is "who do you trust to steer the economy in difficult and dangerous times?"

The 3 D's facing Mr. Harper: 'Daily Dose of Duffy'
'3 D's for Harper: Daily Dose of Duffy'
He also needs to clear the decks as there will be a cross wind coming from the Mike Duffy trial scheduled to eat up 40 days of media coverage from April to June this year, just at the Tories need a clear pre-summer launch to the campaign. It will be a challenge for the Prime Minister to shape the media agenda in the face of the 3 D's for Mr. Harper: the 'Daily Dose of Duffy'.
What Mr. Harper needs to remind himself of, is that governments tend to get re-elected if their core theme is 'we did what we said we would do'. If that's what the voters think, then he has a good chance of being re-elected, with -at least- a minority government.

From the 'there are no silver linings in this playbook' Bill Cosby
Then there's Bill Cosby who doesn't seem to understand that when you're under fire for a series of sexual assaults, you don't go out and do a stand-up tour. Does he really need the money? Or is he just addicted to the (rapidly declining) adulation?
Kudos to Porter Airlines
In the throes of a truly sad year-end story, of a young girl who was bumped from a flight along with her father on their way to her chemotherapy treatment in Toronto, Porter Airlines moved immediately to make it right, by apologizing to her and offering free flights to her and compensation to her father.
Now that's a classic 'how to' in public relations, and, not so coincidentally, in doing the right thing after the wrong thing has been done.
Kudos to Porter for remembering that.

Now, if only some politicians could learn the same lesson!

Until next time!