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Episode 411: Ian McCormack

Welcome to the Cross Border Interviews With Ian McCormack

What attributes make a good leader?

Ian McCormack has had conversations with hundreds of mayors and thousands of councillors and other local leaders over the years. While each community and its leaders are unique, some common themes emerged among those appreciated as the most effective. Investigating these themes and drilling down into the key factors that enabled them to exist revealed several key attributes held in common by these strong leaders.

In The DNA of Great Leaders, McCormack provides 25 key attributes of great leaders around three major thematic areas: personal characteristics, community leadership, and governing. Each chapter dissects a key attribute, contains examples and quotes from mayors who embody these attributes, and end with questions for reflection.

“There is arguably a growing leadership deficit at all levels of public life, and yet in my experience local democracy remains the most reliable structure for selecting and then growing authentic leadership. And so Ian McCormack’s book is timely as community leaders turned off by party politics and polarization turn to their county and town hall to try to make life better close to home. I agree with McCormack’s recurring premise that ‘The politics of local government doesn’t have to be zero sum,’ and his book describes many of the attributes and skills necessary for mayors to steer councils, municipal organizations and communities on the non-zero-sum path. More communities led in this thoughtful way would add up to stronger communities, a stronger country, and a timely antidote to the politics of division we see around us.”

Don Iveson, Edmonton Mayor 2013-2021, current Canadian Urban Leader at the University of Toronto School of Cities.


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