Three principles of #TeamWork – Illustrated by Canadian Politics

People ask how I come up with some of my ideas for Blog posts. I tell them that typically they arise during discussions I have with colleagues or because of something I have read or heard. I also tell them that usually when you find a topic that you think would be a good Blog post, you know it immediately. Such was the case this past weekend when I read the following article on Justin Trudeau and his political viewpoints.


For those of you not familiar with Canadian politics or the Trudeau family, let me provide some context. First off I should declare that I have no affiliation with any political party. In fact, I’m equally pessimistic about what any of the political parties accomplish. Now onto the context.

The Canadian political landscape is made up of four major political parties (Sorry Green Party); the Liberals, Conservatives, Bloc Québécois, and the New Democratic Party. For sake of easy comparison for my American friends, the Liberals are Democrats, Conservatives are Republicans, Bloc Québécois are a separatist/succession party that speaks for a separate Quebec, and the New Democrats are a party that is supported primarily by Unions and Labour. Now that I have offended probably every Canadian with political affiliations, lets move on. 🙂

Pierre Elliot Trudeau was one of my country’s most influential Prime Ministers. You can argue whether you agreed with his policies, but you can’t argue that he has left a lasting impact on Canada. He also had a passion for doing what he believed in and not just what he thought the people wanted to hear. I think it is a quality sorely missing in our leaders today. But I digress.

Justin Trudeau is Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s son who has now entered the political spotlight. Suffice it to say he does not like the governing Conservative Party. But the reaction to some of his comments by political analysts were comments that I felt spoke of teamwork or the lack of teamwork.

Justin’s Statement

“I always say, if at a certain point, I believe that Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper — that we were going against abortion, and we were going against gay marriage, and we were going backwards in 10,000 different ways — maybe I would think about making Quebec a country.”

The reaction

The reaction was swift and perhaps overly harsh. I think you have to take some of the comments with a grain of salt as most political analysts do have a political axe to grind. Nonetheless, in my opinion the comments were very insightful when compared to aspects of teamwork.

“Robert Asselin, a political scientist at the University of Ottawa who specializes in Canada-Quebec affairs, noted the inherent narcissism of Trudeau’s attitude. “That’s the first observation I would make. But also, government policy should not dictate one’s preference for secession or not. Secession is a very grave action and you don’t even suggest it (as a possibility) because you don’t share certain beliefs or values of the government of the moment.”

“Politics is not about personal feelings,” said Barry Cooper, a political theorist at the University of Calgary, “It’s about the ethics of responsibility. He was elected as a member of Parliament from a particular constituency. He was not elected in his own right because he has these sensitive feelings about various things. Whether he likes it or not, he’s supposed to be a responsible political leader, and he’s clearly incapable of understanding what his job is.”

I really liked Barry Cooper’s quote and if you allow me some poetic license to replace some key words to make the quote about team work we get:

“Team work is not just about personal feelings, It’s about the ethics of responsibility. He was a team member from a particular area. He was not there solely in his own right because he has these sensitive feelings about various things. Whether he likes it or not, he’s supposed to be a responsible team member, and he’s clearly incapable of understanding what that means.”

Interesting no? Cooper goes on to state:

“You’ve got this kind of narcissistic response that the state only exists to reflect your values. There’s nothing to be patriotic about (and) so you can indulge whatever idiosyncratic policy preferences you might have.”

And finally:

“Trudeau’s statement reflected the “incredible notion” that loyalty to one’s country is predicated on whether that country lived up to your personal sentiments, said Tom Darby, a political philosopher at Carleton University in Ottawa. It is quite legitimate to oppose the policies of a particular government, he said, but Trudeau showed no sense of what Canadians have in common, no sense of shared citizenship and the responsibilities that come with citizenship.”


I think some of the pundits quotes are very revealing as to the principles of team work. These quotes contained the three principles I always use when describing a great team:

  1.  Modest about themselves
  2.  Loyal to their teammates
  3.  Responsible to the greater good

I’m again using poetic license as modest was not mentioned but the opposite of modest was – narcissistic.

I don’t want to be overly critical of Justin Trudeau. I think he has the capability to eventually be a great leader for our country. But he does need to learn more about team work. And is there any greater team than our country? I would have concerns of any team member that is willing to throw his country away when he doesn’t agree with the governing party. It goes against Modesty, Loyalty, and Responsibility.

You can find the full article here.