Raft going through Sabre Tooth Rapids

Five Rules For Running Big Rapids

By Heather Lehmann

You’re paddling the Kicking Horse close to the BC border. Group of 30. Things change quickly up here: Class III, IV rapids around every bend. Sometimes you have to eddy out and discuss how to approach the next set. Now and then, there’s a humdinger where you can’t see a safe line. You actually have to pull out and walk downriver to scout the hazard. And then? You have to outline a plan and get everyone clear on what they need to do.

This is what happens on a river. But the 2021 business landscape is not so very different. Change lurks under every rock and around every corner. As your people’s leader, you are the architect of change. It’s on you to calm their fears, help them see that they’ve got what it takes — and run the first line yourself.

Here are five rules to orient you as you guide people through the coming shifts.

Rule 1: See It. Say It.

You’ve scouted a nasty keeper up ahead. If you don’t paddle like a monster, you’re going to get sucked backwards into the weir. You’ve got to communicate this well to ensure everyone clears the rapid.

Same principle applies with organizational change. When a shift is coming, people need to understand what you’re trying to do, why, and how it will affect them. How does your proposed change connect to the larger strategy? Why should people care?

Overcommunicate. Confirm again and again: Are we on the same page? Everyone know where we’re going?

Common pitfalls:

  • Not communicating the what and the why clearly, so people go off in different directions.
  • Assuming everyone gets it because you’ve talked about it a few times.
  • Failing to communicate Why now? so people don’t see it as urgent.

Rule 2: We’re All In The Same Boat.

No way you’re getting to the other side of the widow-maker without everybody pulling in the same direction. You need to get your strongest paddlers setting the cadence so that others will follow.

I’ve seen organizations spend literally millions of dollars that went nowhere because their executive team wasn’t on the same page about what they were trying to accomplish. The research is clear: You can’t skip over layers of people to go faster. There is huge strength in leveraging different levels of leadership.

Treat your key leaders as a change audience from the get-go. Be open and transparent with your plan. Give them the opportunity to ask questions. Engage relentlessly.


  • Different leaders giving conflicting direction to the team.
  • Not ensuring your leaders have the skills to help people through the change process.
  • Delegating the change to your direct reports and not staying visible as part of it, yourself.

Rule 3: Feel the Fear.

You can see everybody’s nervous. Fear of the unknown does that. There’s no certainty at the top of this here waterfall.

Humans are wired to resist change. The brain has five times more space devoted to finding threats than to finding opportunity. Even when you’re introducing a change that you think will have a positive outcome — or one that people have been asking for — our brains are attuned to looking for the threats in any situation. Change removes choice; resistance grows especially strong if it also comes as a surprise.

The emotional cycle of change closely resembles the grief cycle. It includes the initial stages of shock, denial and frustration, continues through experimentation, and finishes with integration. Understand the norms of how people go through change, and stay open to addressing their fears.


  • Ignoring people’s emotions around change.
  • Assuming that even if people respond positively to change, they won’t at some point have a negative reaction to it.
  • Viewing doubts and questions as push-back instead of energy you can engage.

Rule 4: You’re Digging Too, Hoss.

You can tell your crew how to run the rapid, but what they’re really paying attention to is how you paddle your own boat — and whether you fawn over Martin-the-maverick when he takes a much more dangerous but impressive line.

What you say is powerful, but what you do is exponentially powerful. And whatever you’re reinforcing … that’s where you’re really telling people what’s important. Ask yourself: What are the behaviours that are required of me and others in this change? What do I need to shift personally — in what I’m acknowledging, recognizing and rewarding in other people?

Your every interaction is an opportunity to model and reinforce the change you’re trying to make in your organization.


  • A distinct break between what you say and what you do.
  • Claiming to be open to two-way dialogue … but then sanctioning people when they share their doubts.
  • Forgetting how powerfully your actions speak.

Rule 5: Wrap Up Before You Race Ahead

Looking behind, you can see the first few groups have made it through. This is not the time to take off on the next section. You need to watch how it all goes down — in fact, you should be cruising the bank with your boatmates, throwbags in hand.

As a leader, it’s natural to want to move on to the next thing. Make sure you stick with the actions of the change you’re driving to ensure said change achieves the goals you set out for it.

Remove roadblocks as your leaders encounter them to ensure they stay engaged and unified. Remain visible and active yourself, until the new becomes normal. Keep asking: Are we there yet?


  • Announcing a change, delegating it, then roaring off to the next thing.
  • Installing change versus implementing it.
  • Overloading people with too many new initiatives.

Change isn’t easy. It removes people’s sense of certainty, threatens our status, diminishes our feelings of autonomy. Compounding these emotional effects is the fact that we’re wired against it. To be a deft change architect is to master the small things that help folks feel a sense of control in the middle of swirl.

Order of operations: Leader grasp self. Leader grasp team. Team grasp task.

Paddle on.


Heather Lehmann is Roy Group’s Learning Lead for Change. With almost 30 years of cross-sector experience working with executives to position their teams to not only cope with change, but to get the most out of it, Heather uses principles in psychology and neuroscience to coach leaders in the fine art of guiding people through transition. Contact us to work with Heather.

Critical Traction In Culture

Leadership development is an investment—and you want to trust that your investment will pay dividends. Knowing that decision-makers are actively engaged in researching their options, Roy Group is producing a series of case studies to share our clients’ experiences of working with us. The case studies highlight organizations in all four of our verticals. Here is the story of our journey with Fountain Tire.

Fountain Tire is one of Canada’s strongest national chains, with $650 million in annual revenues and 160 store locations across the country. But this is not your average corporation. Each of those 160 stores shares joint ownership: 50% by Fountain Tire, and 50% by the local store owner. On top of that, each store, embedded in its own community and geography, has its own niche in its community.

When Fountain Tire retained Roy Group in 2005, it was with the hope of somehow developing a way to honour and articulate its unique 50/50 business model, and to get everyone working inside the organization showing up as their finest selves. Below, you’ll find some of the highlights from our case study with Fountain Tire.

The goals

  • Evolving leadership within an intentional business model based on partnership
  • Creating a shared language and operating system for leadership conversations
  • Shifting from directive leadership to a coaching approach, where leadership is invited from all levels of the organization

The approach

  • Senior leadership immersion in The Leader’s Discipline™
  • CEO immersion in Opportunity in Conflict™
  • Headquarters management immersion in The Leader’s Discipline™
  • In-house delivery of tools for creating a feedback-rich culture
  • Annual opening of Fountain Tire’s three-week DRIVE training sessions with new store owners

The results

  • Shifted a patronage-based culture to a performance-based culture
  • Honest, respectful conversations supported by a framework for giving succinct feedback
  • Stores perform better because partners have simple tools to keep their teams connected, engaged and empowered

Read the case study


Roy Group Call To Action

Don’t Underestimate Just How Much the World Needs Us

For everyone at Roy Group, Christmas 2020 feels a bit like the break after a first period of a hockey game. We sense we are 1/3 of our way into this challenge and that there are 2/3 of this test left. We sense things might get harder before they get easier. We are hoping that it doesn’t go to overtime. And we feel the responsibility to share whatever we have to help everyone in this dressing room have what they need for what lies ahead.

When we started Roy Group in 2004, we knew that the world needed leaders who knew how to coach, leaders who had ways of working with conflict, leaders who deeply engage those around them and leaders who were as much committed to inviting greatness from others as they were great results.

What we did not know was that in 2020–2021 our world would need these things more than it has since we started.

What’s New in 2021

  • Open Offering expanded to position leaders for this new reality
  • All offerings available in a high-quality virtual format

1. Refinding the Future 2021: A Leader’s Discipline Recharge

Created for those of you who have been with us through The Leader’s Discipline™, the Refinding the Future 2021 Recharge will re-ignite your practice of coaching in light of the current circumstances.

  • 8 hours (4 sessions x 2 hours)
    Thursdays, 2021 January 14–February 4
    11:30-1:30pm PST / 12:30-2:30pm MST
  • Core precepts from The Leader’s Discipline anchor new and innovative methods for inviting human potential at a time when we need it in play.
  • Offers some useful new tools that Roy Group has been deploying with leaders, helping them to stay resilient while leading through complexity.


2. The Leader’s Discipline: A Coaching Approach to Leadership

If you haven’t yet taken The Leader’s Discipline, join us for the upcoming session.

  • 21 hours (9 sessions @ 2-3 hours per session)
    2021 February 9–March 11 (Tuesdays and Thursdays)
    Early Bird Discount ends December 11th
  • Experience practical models to increase employee performance, learning and engagement.
  • Practice and build ability in coaching emerging leaders and teams.
  • Increase confidence in giving and receiving honest feedback.


Further Call To Action

If you have taken The Leader’s Discipline … you understand that your conduct with others can be a gift. The world needs you now more than ever.

As a graduate of The Leader’s Discipline, please consider referring the LD Open Course to those in your network for whom this experience will be perfectly timed. We cannot underestimate how much of a lifeline is provided when a leader understands the power of coaching – to connect, challenge and care for the people that they work with. We want to equip organizations and communities with these kinds of leaders.

Click here for a complete list of our 2021 offerings
Contact us for special pricing for teams


What Spaghetti On My Shirt Taught Me About Social Transformation

By Iain Duncan

For my last leadership assignment in the charitable sector, I was tasked with leading a small team responsible for community development initiatives in different parts of the world. My first order of business was to gather this team together and establish a culture of trust, honesty and high-integrity work. We had two hours.

In that two-hour session, I spent the first hour emphasizing to this group how deeply I wanted their honest ideas, opinions and feedback. I wanted their help knowing when things were working and when they weren’t.

Before the second half of the session, we took a break. As I washed my hands in the washroom, a healthy helping of my lunch’s pasta sauce stared back at me from my shirt.


I kicked off the second half of the session with a question. “Before now, how many of you saw the stain on my shirt?”

About a third of the team raised their hands.

“This is exactly what I’m asking for,” I said. “If there’s sauce on my shirt, you can tell me. In fact, this doesn’t work unless we can tell each other.”

That night I was still truly baffled. Why, in an hour-long session about honesty, trust and integrity (that included a break WHERE ANYBODY COULD HAVE PULLED ME ASIDE), did nobody tell me about the pasta sauce on my shirt?

I suspect that part of the answer comes down to speaking truth to power – a fear of saying something that might embarrass the new boss. If you look underneath that fear of embarrassment though, there is an interesting assumption that failure is bad: that it is somehow shameful.

This isn’t a phenomenon unique to the social change sector, but it is very instructive to it, because it shows that our ultimate success as a sector is fully dependent on resetting our relationship with failure.

Resetting our relationship with failure is critical to addressing the crises that civilization is facing.

Let’s take a drive-by of just some of these crises. Income disparity. Climate change. Mental health. Even if there’s a clear solution for any one of them, the way forward for widely implementing that solution is not so clear. Many of these crises have persisted for decades, resistant to the best resources, data and technological innovations that we’ve deployed against them.

Our approaches to solving these problems are not having the right effect. We’re in a position now that begs leaders of social change to try something new. Something different.

We’re going to have to try a lot of new things if we are to find a marriage between a bold enough solution and its catalyzing vector.

To solve these problems, we need to play with the dials of what we do and how we do it. One way is by shaping a barrage of intelligently designed experiments, and sending out a series of tests — probes, if you will — into our surroundings, without knowing exactly what might come back. Some of those experiments will work. And some of them won’t.

Some things might have to get worse before we can make them better.

I don’t mean we’re not going to act until the crisis worsens. What I mean is that each experiment becomes an opportunity to learn. From success of course, but also from failure. Thomas Edison, whose repeated experimentation eventually handed us the light bulb, reportedly quipped, “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” Our priority needs to be learning from both success and failure so that we can create the next series of experiments, repeatedly iterating until we establish a virtuous cycle of learning and change that enables us to find our way through these most complex of problems. The faster we can learn, the sooner our emergence into a better world that we all sense is possible.

If that approach feels risky, that’s because it is.

There is a natural tension between innovation, experimentation, risk and failure: innovation is stunted without the other three. And my hunch is that a lot people speak of a desire for innovation while simultaneously fearing the implicit risks and failures that are so necessary to the learning. One result of that fear is to sweep failure under the rug and hope that nobody sees it.

This is the death knell of innovation.

Leaders of social change will need to form a rock-solid relationship with failure if we’re going to find a new way forward. We must build an appetite and an aptitude for guiding teams through learning from both success and failure in equal measure.

But I’ll let you in on a catch-22. For very good reasons, many people passionate about making a better world shudder at the thought of causing any harm, even for a moment. It makes us incredibly cautious at how we approach change. But playing to this sense of caution holds us back from the bold actions our thorniest issues demand.

Raising our tolerance of risk does not mean we move forward irresponsibly. Our probes must be intelligently designed to minimize unintended, damaging consequences. We should make it as safe as possible to fail. Even so, like all good experiments, much of the best learning will emerge unexpectedly, in the experiments over which we have the least control.

Unintended consequences are both inevitable and desirable as we strike out into new territory.

Some of our efforts at change might make things worse before they can make things better. Making things worse certainly isn’t the goal, but it is a possibility we have to open ourselves to, so we can talk about what isn’t working, learn from it and, in the process, uncover the things that do work to transform ourselves and our communities.

I’m not advocating for reckless abandon or a lack of care. Our deep caring and connection to each other and the planet is our one shining hope. Rather, I’m advocating for a new kind of courage to help us break a hopelessly repeating cycle and create lasting change. I’m advocating for a new relationship with failure, one in which a primacy of honesty, feedback and learning allows us to be bolder in what we endeavour — and in what we accomplish.

Keep doing what you’re doing, but in the meantime, pick a few experiments. Make them small. They aren’t THE solution, just some first steps in testing a hypothesis of change. Let your team know that this is an experiment in which learning is the priority. Run the experiments out there in the world, and then come together as a team to evaluate their impact. Then take that learning and craft the next round of tests.

Take some risks. Watch the impact. Talk them through — openly, without defenses or fear. Don’t worry about how the guy is going to feel if you tell him he’s got tomato sauce on his shirt. You’re not in the game to hide the tricky things.

Lead with courage — and accept that it will evoke change. I suspect you’ll find some surprising results.


Iain Duncan is Roy Group’s Practice Lead for Social Impact.

trucks on the highway

The Roy Group Evolution: 2020 & Beyond

In an open letter to the Roy Group Team, Chief of Staff Jonny Schwartz shares some personal thoughts…

Some of you may know that July 31st was Roy Group’s year end. It’s been one interesting year and I’ll leave it at that here in this email. I tried to capture some thoughts on the past 12 months to share with the team. It started as notes on 2020 and I decided to take a page from Mitch Ditkoff from the InnerGame Conference (as well as Ian and Bob!) and share a story to help capture my feelings going thru the last 6 months and some insight into what will anchor me as we move forward.

Please indulge me and give it a read. It’s been a roller coaster, but we are starting to build some momentum heading into the new calendar year.

I was 28, a young accountant about a year into trying to be a manager. You’d probably expect me to say leader there, but honestly, I had no idea what that word meant back then. I was trying to survive by working long hours and proving to my staff that I had any idea what the hell I was doing. Most of them were older than me, and I’m not talking a few years. More like 20 or 30.

One of the three areas I was responsible for was pricing. In trucking, pricing is like one of those aptitude test questions you came across in high school: If truck A is in Vancouver and has to drive to Delta to pick up 1200 lbs and take it back to the terminal, while truck B is going from Calgary to Vancouver and then back to Calgary and then to Saskatoon and it picks up the 1200 lbs and gives it to truck C to deliver in Regina, how much fuel did it take to deliver the package? Add that this happens tens of thousands of times a month, and throw in a few dozen more variables. Some variables you have the data for, some you don’t, and some you have no idea if you can trust the data. It makes me slump in my chair just thinking about it. Where the hell do you start? How do I solve this for my meeting with the bosses next Friday?

Needless to say, I was pretty lost, smack dab in my personal go-to place when I am stressed out: paralysis by analysis. Finally, the president threw me a lifeline. His name was Ron.

Ron had almost 40 years of pricing experience. He not only reminded me of my dad, they were also the same age. Ron had been my boss for about a week right before I finished my student job at the company almost 10 years previous. Now he was going to be reporting to me, the accountant. Ron didn’t like bean counters. “They don’t know how to think,” he’d say.

All I was thinking at this point was that this couldn’t get any worse. Best I could do was to be open with Ron. “Let’s start having some conversations and see where our ideas meet,” I said. “Let’s see where they diverge, and what we can do to get a handle on this.”

Those conversations turned into something else for Ron and me. I’m not entirely sure what all Ron got out of them, but I must have done something right. By the end of our time working together, he had no problem telling me I was “the only good bean counter he ever met.” For me, whether he planned it or not, Ron was becoming my Mentor. He used those conversations to teach me about pricing, he advised me on what I should consider doing next, and he coached me out of my analysis paralysis so I could take my next steps forward.

Our talks usually ended the same way. I’d jump out of the chair in his office with the answers to all our problems; all I had to do was get a few dozen other people to see it the way Ron and I did. I’d be halfway out the door ready to cause a ruckus before Ron would stop me and say what I’d heard him say hundreds of times–something I still say to myself almost every day: “Jonny, it’s an evolution, not a revolution.”

It was a tough thing to accept back then, and I can say quite confidently it’s just as hard today. He was telling me there wasn’t a singular thing I could do that was going to change everything instantaneously. It was going to take many fractional changes and a lot more conversations. Some of these would feel significant; most of them would not. There wasn’t going to be some magic moment where the trumpets would be blasting, the parade would be marching, and the feeling of accomplishment would wash over me. There was no final destination, only incremental changes to be made to get us from one goal to the next.

That realization is when you discover one of the true powers of pause and reflection: taking a moment to look at the progress accomplished, instead of the lack of perfection experienced. Taking the time to reflect on the evolution you have been through to get here, and the changes needed to continue forward and get ready to act on the next goal.

I guess this is a long-winded story to set the stage for a moment of reflection on our fiscal year 2020, and to look at some good things and a few issues coming up for us in 2021.

Looking at what happened fiscally in 2020 isn’t good news and it’s certainly been a hard year for all. We have had team members deal with loss of loved ones, personal health issues, isolation and the inability to see our families. We’ve all been dealing with the mental stress that comes with living in a pandemic.

Given everything we faced, it would have been easy to divert course and change directions. It’s fair to say we’ve all been wrestling with frustration on some level, both inside the Hub and within the wider group. The world is changing, and we are getting new information daily, weekly, monthly that can take our best-laid plans and flip them on their heads. We’re all swimming in this new current. Todd built up the team with plans to hand it off — and then a global disaster flipped it upside down. We’ve been forced to recreate a foundation that took 15 years to build. Something we didn’t see coming when Todd, Ian, and Anne-Marie decided to grow the team. I could get on the phone with you and tell you what the plan is, but we both know it’d change soon anyway.

We’re finding the flow. And we feel super grateful to be wading this river with the outstanding people on this team. Your insights, wisdom, grace and willingness to dig are what give us so much stamina. Through it all, Roy Group has been committed to keeping the team together with plans for reaching the other side and coming out of this better than ever.

Looking toward 2021, the evolution isn’t close to being done. We have added Nina to the team to help us get the best out of Chiz and support the Hub in its changes; we’re establishing our rhythms as a team, continuing to evolve our offerings and facilitate them online; we’re looking at new technologies, adapting old ideas and creating new processes; and Anne-Marie is getting set to launch the new NatuR&D website and offerings.

As I look at the year ahead, I feel that same urge I used to get upon leaving Ron’s office. To find that one thing that will fix everything, hoping it will turn it all around. But inevitably I always hear that same voice in my head: “Jonny, it’s an evolution, not a revolution.” It won’t all be fixed at once. It will take time and work for the changes to take effect, and for the answers to become clear. When we think of an evolution, we understand that it’s small changes that add up to one big shift. For us this year, it will more than likely be a combination of small changes and big changes. And as big and revolutionary as some changes might be, they won’t be as big as we think in the grand scheme of things. We will evolve together as a team, one step at a time.

Much appreciation for everyone’s patience and time as we work through the stress.


Jonny Schwartz is Roy Group’s Chief of Staff.


Being a Guest of ThresholdImpact VMS

By Ian Chisholm

This month we are proudly reposting a recent article published in the University of Alberta 2020 Annual Report for its ThresholdImpact Venture Mentoring Service (VMS). Read the entire report here.

Several years ago, Ted Kouri of Incite Strategy put Seth Godin’s book, Tribes, on my desk.

It was a punchy little work (as Godin is prone to write) asserting that with the dawn of social media, people who share a passion, a cause or a concern can find each other more easily and begin to coordinate a response.

Around the same time he handed me this book, Ted also introduced me to Ashlyn Bernier and Ray Muzyka at UAlberta’s VMS, on the off chance that Roy Group might be able to support the development of a remarkable group of leaders united by the desire to earn the word ‘Mentor’ in the lives of others.

The opportunity to work with a group of like-minded people with shared values and a common purpose to deepen its culture of mutual support and efficacy sounded great. We were a venti YES.

In his book, Godin explains a few concepts that are embedded into what has been built in the VMS community. This involves three key ingredients:

  • A noble promise: The uniting why, the reason for being and belonging, the conceptual spark that this group protects together—even if that requires time, effort and sacrifice.
  • Community leaders: Wise members of a community who embody the noble promise at a cellular level. You only ever need to spend a few minutes with these folks, and suddenly you understand the promise at a much deeper level. In addition to taking action when required, these special individuals provide an example of conduct for future generations.
  • Tools and rituals: These allow members of the community to have any conversation they need to have to keep the promise together, and to tackle more than one could do alone. By taking part in these rituals, participants experience a glimpse of a greater order and become part of a bigger narrative. These tools and rituals align us. The great paradox is that it is within these conversations with others that we discover who we are.

I hadn’t thought about this book in years when Lazina Mckenzie approached Roy Group to engage in a special summer collaboration called “Refinding the Future: Exploring the Role of Mentors in Emergence”. This collaboration would be in addition to the Mentor Orientation Training that we run several times throughout the year, and would specifically focus on the tools and approaches that Roy Group is using with entrepreneurs in light of the level of uncertainty that 2020 has presented.

It was only when 70 people entered the virtual “room” that I experienced the true nature of VMS. I realized then that so much of the momentum Ashlyn Bernier and Arden Tse have created since 2014, and the momentum that Lazina and the current team have been able to keep—and build, even —in the face of adversity comes from the fact that people feel a sense of belonging to this service. It is a community they represent, everywhere they go.

Your VMS is a group where each and every member has the chance to discover their unique gifts in the midst of real-world endeavours. You ask nothing more than that a person be themselves and remain open to all they can become. Here, they are given opportunities to develop their gifts and share them. Being a part of this community influences their livelihood, how they partner with the gifts of others, the way they parent, and what kind of neighbour and volunteer they are. It changes the kind of citizen they show up as—and the way they, in turn, show up for others.

It changes the world.

And at the heart of this community, a wise collection of Mentors: people who, in addition to leading their own endeavours, focus time and effort on honing their ability to see others, know others, support others, challenge others and invite the best from others.

Roy Group could not be more proud to be a part of your efforts, and a guest at the VMS table.


Ian Chisholm is a founding partner of Roy Group.


Tech Community to Host RG Leadership Series

It’s September. Six months after the world fell apart from a fast-moving virus. Some tech businesses have been relatively unaffected. Some tech businesses are booming. Some have adapted what they do and now need to move forward.

The role of leadership in bringing people into this new world is key — and an elusive opportunity exists to bring culture back stronger than it has ever been.

Join Roy Group partner Ian Chisholm and Yolanda Moran, Roy Group Practice Lead, Enterprise, as they bring together tech leaders and founders from across British Columbia for a special four-part series examining leadership in crazy times. Pick up some new tools, learn practices to strengthen resilience across your organization, sharpen your coaching skills so you can lead powerfully and with everyone’s engagement.

Brought to you in partnership with Accelerate Okanagan and VIATEC, Leading In A Changed World begins September 30 and runs once a week for four weeks, from 3-5 PST. The links above will take you straight to each group’s registration pages so you can reserve your seat.


This event has ended. Contact us to host your own leadership event.

Coffee bean sprouts

A New Start

By Ian Chisholm

Begin again. — meditation teachers everywhere

What does the future hold? It’s really up to you.

September 1st has always been a new start for teachers and learners. And January 1 is a new start, too: These are my resolutions… Spring, summer, winter, fiscal year-end, they’re all a bit arbitrary. Monday’s arbitrary, if you get right down to it. We call it Monday and it has a whole energy surrounding it. Friday has an energy. But it’s all just constructed.

We construct these arbitrary “new starts” in order to give ourselves exactly that: a new start. A clean slate. If you think of it like a paragraph, we need that full stop and the new sentence on the other side, beginning with a capital letter.

New starts are kind of awesome. We need them. We need to organize toward them. Oftentimes we need to change a few things so that our new start can be something different. It’s actually really necessary that we give ourselves that clean slate and that chance to start again.

This September, we are collectively engaged in creating a new way forward. It will look different for your organization than it does for ours, but it’s a collaborative movement toward something better. It starts below the surface. It’s time to take a look at beliefs that you’ve had up till now — beliefs that are driving your actions and are creating certain things in your life. A new start is a chance to ask yourself whether any of those beliefs need to change.

Our friend Kim Nemrava, retired from the Red Cross and an expert in disaster management, notes that this is an environment of massive change. She says if there’s one thing the pandemic has reinforced, it’s the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. COVID-19 highlighted the risks and vulnerabilities to our organizations and communities, but it also has shown us opportunities to respond, reset and move ahead differently. We’re now moving into phase four of the disaster response cycle, where we align more closely with our values and rise again — cleaner, stripped of the unnecessary, ready to serve.

I’m in a different place now coming into September than I was when the pandemic first hit us. A lot of us are going through a review of everything we’ve ever learned. There’s more information to fuel my intuition. We’ve got five months under our belt of seeing how people are behaving, both individually and as a system. My intuition is more informed — even though what is around me is still quite strange and ambiguous. I trust it. You should trust yours.

If there’s a theme today, it’s about giving yourself as many fresh starts as you bloody well want. It is time to make ground.

The moment of change is now. And now. And now.


Ian Chisholm is a founding partner of Roy Group.


Donning the Guest Editor Hat for Douglas

As September nears and we dust ourselves off from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, our co-founder Chiz has the honour of being Douglas magazine’s first-ever guest editor. His editorial opens the issue in classic Roy Group style, with a reflection on what it takes to chart a new course out of yesterday’s rubble and make a fresh start.

Chiz also goes deep with Royal Roads University President Dr. Philip Steenkamp, talking about the courage it takes to keep moving forward, the courage it takes to change directions in mid-career, and the beautiful growth that happens when you lean into the hard stuff. Check out his podcast and app picks, too — we bet you’ll get a giggle from his first recommendation (page 11).

Heading into the fall, we want to wish you health, balance and good energy, plus a whole lot of hopeful for the better world we now have the opportunity to create.

Read the August/September issue of Douglas

Announcing Roy Group’s 2020 MacGregor Cup Recipient

At a time when many leaders, teams and organizations are emerging from a disorienting few months, Roy Group has found an opportunity to celebrate by announcing our 2020 recipient of the MacGregor Cup.

The MacGregor Cup is inscribed with the motto Ex Eximio Eximia (From Your Finest Self Comes Your Finest Contribution). It is conferred upon individual client champions whose leadership development activities have made a significant impact on organizational practices. In specific terms, the awarding of the Cup reflects the achievement of the following competencies:

Mastery. Someone who is able to carve out space, in the heart of their responsibility, for practice, practice, practice — and it shows.

Leadership. Someone who invites, challenges and supports others on the path to practice, to grow and to lead.

Character. Someone who is emulated as an example of being a damn fine person — a character in the stories of other people’s lives.

Our abiding belief is that leaders like these create the kinds of cultures that elicit the best from others, and the kinds of stories that the world needs. Leaders like these stir their teams and their organizations to emerge from something like the last few months stronger, more focused, and hungry to undertake what the endeavour demands.

Most significantly, these are the kinds of leaders the world needs right now. Our confirmation of their existence in our midst serves, we hope, as some measure of faith in the way forward. That there are such skilled, compassionate and inspiring people at work in our circles gives us certain hope that everything will be all right.


And the 2020 MacGregor Cup Award goes to …


Chris Turchansky

Chief Experience Officer
ATB Financial

Roy Group, The MacGregor Cup Badge

“Leadership is one of the hardest and most rewarding opportunities anyone can be given, and it takes practice and commitment no different than if you are a professional hockey player, actor or Olympian. For me leadership is a journey that doesn’t have an end date but is about constant growth.”

Inspired by a fierce belief in helping others pursue their greatness, Chris Turchansky understands that part of his role is to help leaders look for the big picture. When he took over as CEO of ATB Wealth in 2015, Mr. Turchansky engaged Roy Group as a partner to assist with the growth and development of his team, beginning with a custom retreat and threading through The Leader’s Discipline™, Opportunity in Conflict™ and annual custom retreats. Over the intervening years, Mr. Turchansky has worked diligently to take Roy Group concepts and encode them as the senior team’s operating system, guided by his strong convictions around the fundamental importance of feedback and the practice of coaching. Mr. Turchansky now continues his commitment to leadership development as Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of ATB, ranked as the #1 Best Place to Work in Canada for 2020. A consummate practitioner, Mr. Turchansky recognizes that every challenge is a chance to coach and be coached, to find opportunities in conflict, and to engage the team further — an understanding that has stood his organization in excellent stead as they navigate the strange and turbulent events of 2020.


Click here to read more about Roy Group’s MacGregor Cup recipients.