February 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 72  

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NEWS

General Dallaire talks peacekeeping, war

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

Hundreds of students packed a lecture room at the Ivey School of Business on Friday to hear retired General Romeo Dallaire speak on the proper qualities of strong leadership based on his experiences in the Canadian military.

Dallaire said the world has been entering a different era where little is stable anymore and the demands of managers have become more complex than ever. “It is beyond managerial skills — it’s in fact leadership skills,” he explained.

He cited the example of Rwanda, where irregular armies acted ruthlessly and completely different than what the United Nations peacekeeping force was used to, a crisis that challenged his leadership skills.

“In many circumstances throughout the ’90s, in many different theatres, we crisis-managed ad hoc,” he said, adding leaders cannot simply react to situations but must pro-actively prepare for them.

Dallaire stated good leadership does not end with preparation, but also a compassion and understanding of the people working under you. “Presence is important, but communicating with the people is critical.”

“The fate of leadership [is] it’s not by the hour, it’s by commitment.”

He was quick to note the importance of the mission over the value of those working under the leader. He explained leaders must weigh the value of the lives of those under them and the importance of accomplishing the mission.

“In this era we don’t like casualties, so we are saying it’s not worth Canadian soldiers’ lives,” Dallaire said. “The aim is to accomplish the mission; if there are risks, then they must be assessed.”

He explained that many missions, such as the one to Rwanda, fail because of that sentiment.

“You are in a revolutionary time and think like that — make room for those that don’t fit in,” Dallaire said, “And if you hear a person say ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,’ fire that person. There is no such thing as [the] status quo.”

“I thought it was great, giving you a different perspective of what leadership is,” noted first-year law student Ruby Dhand.

“I’m taking a genocide course. I was hoping for a little more than that, but I’ve always been interested in leadership, so it was still informative,” said third-year media, information and technoculture student Michelle Conto.

 

 

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