Lessons Learned from LEAD2015

At the end of March, Learnography hosted a simulcast of HR.com’s LEAD2015 Conference at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. The event was conceived as “a platform to change the world by inspiring individuals, communities, organizations and governments to choose education, collaboration and ethical leadership instead of ignorance, indifference and violence.” Sounds pretty great, right? As huge proponents of the transformative change made possible through education, we were excited to get involved.


The event proved to be very rewarding and a lot of fun. The members of our community who attended were grateful for the opportunity to discuss new ideas and collaborate to resolve a diverse set of organizational challenges. As a newbie in the world of education (my 19 years of schooling notwithstanding) I’m always amazed by the wisdom and creativity demonstrated by educators and HR professionals when overcoming obstacles. Careful consideration is given to all possible directives and perspectives, both when discussing their own challenges and when offering insight to others. I think it’s fair to say that I learned as much from the speakers on the screen as I did from the people in the room. With this in mind, here are some of my key takeaways.


Don’t fake it until you make it.
Speaker Deb Dagit shared her story of overcoming adversity by embracing her disability. Born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease), Deb is four feet tall and uses assistive devices to improve her mobility. She was never going to fit the mould of the upper class businessman, so she stopped trying to fit the perceived norm and focused instead on being the best version of herself. Now she’s a highly regarded diversity consultant who encourages others to acknowledge and share their privilege.

It helps to talk it out.
During one of the break-out sessions, my table discussed a specific challenge put forward by a woman in our group. It was clear that this situation was causing her much frustration, and at first it seemed very clear that she wanted to limit her involvement. Over the course of the discussion, we agreed that some degree of involvement was necessary, and brainstormed different approaches. She left the table with a few ideas and, most importantly, with the conviction that she was doing the right thing.

Teamwork isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
This is perhaps the underlying thesis statement of the whole day, perfectly underscored in Chris Heeter’s session. Chris talked about her sled dogs as if they were a prototypical office team – some were great, while others weren’t pulling their weight. Occasionally having two strong leaders on the same team would end disastrously. The solution she discovered was to cater to each dog’s unique aptitude and assign roles accordingly. The lazy dogs who didn’t want to pull the sled made great training dogs because you could practice putting a harness on them without them immediately wanting to run. Building human teams may be more complicated, but the underlying principle is the same: the closer someone’s role aligns with their skills and interests, the more you’ll get out of them, and the happier everyone will be.


Author: Kate Salmon

Communications specialist and general word nerd from Toronto, Ontario. Upon learning that I could still get a degree in rhetoric in the 21st century, I went to the University of Waterloo to do precisely that. Now I'm continuing my learning journey at Learnography, a non-profit education consulting organization that really practices its principles of continuous development. With a great team of former educators who are dedicated to creating transformative learning experiences, we are changing the face of corporate training.

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