Winter 2014

Your Letters

‘Classic’ leadership

On the topic of leadership [“Deconstructing Leadership,” Autumn 2014, page 26], the basis is a grounding in morals and ethics. What better place to start than the very foundation of learning, the Department of Classics. The great philosophers of the ancient world, both East and West, are still of great significance. Zeno, the founder of Stoicism. Nor must we forget Socrates, who first formulated the rules of logic, yet of great value today, and his pupil Plato. Having earned my BA in philosophy, I may be biased. After spending 28 years as a teacher, I appreciate the grounding I had from my degree in the Faculty of Arts and Science, beginning with Professor Emeritus John MacDonald. A favourite professor of classics was Dr. May, who introduced us to classical Greek. Another very good professor in Education for philosophy was Dr. Lupul. Obviously, there were others. Nevertheless, all instilled the ideal motto of the U of A: quaecumque vera. 

James E. Logan, ’55 BA, ’57 Dip(Ed), ’71 Dip(Ed), Edmonton

The yin and yang of leadership

This post is spurred by a couple of interesting pieces in the most recent edition of the University of Alberta New Trail magazine.

“There are three elements of leadership: vision, understanding the situation and the courage to act,” says Richard Fields in “Deconstructing Leadership.” I would add two other essential elements: a moral compass (to my way of thinking leadership always has a strong moral element: the demagogue is not a leader); and relationship skills and practices (the capacity to provoke engagement and commitment).

The interesting thing about the consideration of “leadership” at this time is that we are starting to explore the matter of followership. Arguably, they are not two distinct fields of study.

Throughout my life, including the years I was minister of education in Alberta [1979-1986], I have been sometimes the leader and sometimes the follower. The yin and yang of leadership/followership has been my experience in married life, in the service clubs I have been part of, in other workplaces and in civic action.

Kim Campbell’s description [in “Leadership without Bombast ,” Autumn 2014, page 32] of her leadership style as “interactive” is quite suggestive of scholar James MacGregor Burns’ description of leadership as being the outcome of the relationship between the leader and the followers. Leadership accomplishes more when it is inclusive, respectful, collaborative, reciprocal, non-ideological and creative. 

David King, ’84 BA, Victoria

Editor’s note: this is an excerpt from the blog Change Now, for Good, by David King, former education minister of Alberta. Read the full blog post here.

Too Aggressive

While the articles on leadership in the autumn edition of New Trail were very interesting, I found the front cover quite disturbing. It has a very 1930s aggressive feel about it that I thought was quite inappropriate. Having spent a lifetime in industry, apart from my time at U of A, I have worked with good and bad leaders. The aggressive ones were invariably bad. Working for a good, effective leader is the best way to learn leadership. 

Tony Taylor, ’93 PhD(MechEng), Victoria

We would like to hear your comments about the magazine. Send us your letters by post or email to our address. Letters may be edited for length or clarity.


Kelly Gordon Morstad, ’87 BCom, was mistakenly noted as deceased in the Spring 2014 issue. He is, in fact, alive and well.

Lori Shortreed, ’85 BA(Spec), was mistakenly listed as a lawyer in the Autumn 2014 issue. Shortreed is an advocate and volunteer who supports immigrant, disability and international development causes.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by these errors.