We have to suggest, discuss, debate, convince, mobilize and sometimes even start over. - Monique F. Leroux
MONTREAL, May 31, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The president and CEO of Desjardins Group (www.desjardins.com), Monique F. Leroux, shared her thoughts about what leadership means to her, to Desjardins and to the cooperative world during an address today at the Chambre de commerce de l'Est de Montréal.
Leadership: a hot topic in today's changing world
According to Ms. Leroux, we are at a turning point in our society with an economy driven by emerging countries, advances in communication technology, social networks, the push for sustainable development and a desire to provide a better framework for financial markets. "As history is being made ever faster, cooperatives must play a pivotal role," she said.
"In these complex times, it is worth noting that the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives to remind us that cooperatives can be an effective, human solution to the challenges of our day," she added.
While explaining one of her deeply held convictions, she emphasized the meaning of the word "leader." "Leaders aren't renowned for what they know, but rather for their ability to constantly learn and use feedback in order to improve. So, demonstrating leadership means being able to live with uncertainty and sometimes acknowledging your mistakes. It means welcoming doubt as an opportunity to reflect while refusing to be paralyzed by ambivalence. It means being able to convey a vision for the future that incorporates collective aspirations and fosters engagement."
Drawing on her own experience, Ms. Leroux explained that the idea that leaders are first and foremost people who learn also means that leaders must have someone to guide them. She said that throughout her own personal journey, very special people including bosses, colleagues, friends and collaborators helped show her the way.
Leadership at Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group thrives on shared leadership. As Desjardins is a democratic movement, Ms. Leroux reminded her audience that she was elected president by an electoral college of 255 individuals representing Desjardins Group's 5.6 million members.
From local caisse managers to members of the regional councils of representatives to the assembly of representatives made up of the 17 councils of representatives, everyone is elected democratically.
"Each of these bodies has the power to influence and make decisions. They all depend on leaders who are engaged in their community and in Desjardins Group. In this democratic environment, leaders hold great sway. We have to suggest, discuss, debate, convince, mobilize and sometimes even start over," she noted.
"And Desjardins Group is moving forward, with strength in numbers. Discussions are obviously key in this democratic environment. Sometimes we have to do some extra talking to rally the troops and strike the right balance between caisse autonomy and group solidarity. But this process can create momentum that is simply unstoppable. That's the multiplier effect of shared leadership," she said.
Desjardins, Quebec's leading financial institution, is part of the larger cooperative movement and demonstrates year in, year out that this model can perform brilliantly in a competitive market economy.
Leadership within the cooperative movement
The shared leadership that is the lifeblood of Desjardins is also the foundation of the international cooperative and mutualist movement.
Worldwide, the cooperative model is enjoying renewed interest. Ms. Leroux discussed why she believes the model is growing so quickly in popularity. "At a time when there are calls from all sides to come up with new solutions, the cooperative model is getting people involved and working for the long-term good."
"Getting involved personally, coming together on the local and regional levels, moving forward together propelled by the strength of our union. That is what cooperative leadership is all about," she concluded.
About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group www.desjardins.com is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada with assets of $196.4 billion. Drawing on the strength of its caisse network in Quebec and Ontario and its subsidiaries across Canada, it offers a full range of financial products and services to its 5.6 million members and clients. Desjardins specializes in Wealth Management and Life and Health Insurance, in Property and Casualty Insurance, in Personal Services, in Business and Institutional Services. As one of the largest employers in the country and among Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2012TM, Desjardins is supported by the skills of its 44,645 employees and the commitment of nearly 5,400 elected officers. A new education and cooperation program is now available to Desjardins members and the general public. For more information, visit www.desjardins.com/co-opme.
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