Matt Mosteller is a senior executive with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
There is a lot packed into what Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as saying, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” While many businesses have something about being good in their core values, many have become lost and unfocused, leading them in other directions. Being good matters today, maybe even more than it did in Mr. Lincoln’s time, given the tensions within our global community of today. Many companies miss the massive value creation ecosystem that develops when they put good first. Caring for your team and nourishing your community have been proven to have greater impact on profitability versus the old-school, traditional focus on strict financial performance measures.
Hopefully more companies in Canada will follow the lead of Billy and Mandi Blewett, owners of the famed Steelhead Fly Fishing Lodge, Lower Dean River Lodge and Great Bear Heli Skiing in Dean River, B.C. They lead by sharing goodness in all they do, with all who they encounter.
Where the water flows
A place far north, away from the usual, the mighty river starts as a trickle in a high-altitude plateau, bringing with it rich nutrients from those grassy meadows. It picks up pace, becomes a deep flowing river, carves through a boulder strewn path where historic creatures give their all to come from saltwater to arrive here. These fish swim the wild river, wrestling up, seeking to return to where it all began for them along their magical journey through a large timber canopy lined channel while the river throws all it can against them.
The Blewett’s family tradition of working together in this natural setting has been going on here since the 1960′s. It’s how they learned that wherever you are, the place matters. Get involved and engaged in the community. Realizing that great care was needed to benefit this incredible ecosystem, Billy Blewett is actively engaged in supporting the non-profit Coastal Rivers Conservancy. This group works on finding sustainable solutions to the plights facing the wild salmon of B.C.’s West Coast.
Fish show strong spirit
Some say the Steelhead here are uniquely shaped by this environment. Unlike other rivers, the beginning of the Dean River starts with a massive rock walled canyon, which pinches the river off to create a raging torrent that deters other fish and people from entering this wild place. The fish, determined to make it, don’t let this challenge stop them. The people here, like the fish, have found a way forward by counting on each other for support and care. This creates the strong foundation of collaboration and strong work ethic they share to provide guests incredible experiences in this remote landscape.
Always changing environment
Like the river, The Blewetts, who were raised on its shore, have been tested. From the complete loss of the lodge to floods to starting a business in the middle of nowhere, they learned to approach life differently to make a difference. Change is the norm and includes the impacts of climate, social and the economy. It gives even more reason to create a nourishing environment for your people, so everyone knows and shares the ‘we got your back’ mantra. This is not just the way the company speaks, it is actioned and ever present.
This is a place where you will experience some of the best fly fishing or powder skiing in the world. If you visit, you’ll remember your trip, but likely more for the passion of the people and their tradition of care. Real kindness, feeling like you matter, in the wilds of British Columbia.
It is hard
Leadership can’t settle or become complacent. Forged by a wild, ever-changing landscape, humans need to mirror mother nature’s lesson here. Don’t stand still when it comes to growing tall. Always be learning and sharing what you learn. Create an environment where learning is mandatory, where shared discussion and growth is part of the baked-in process of your daily being.
Don’t expect to be at the top if you are just beginning. Spend time with others who perform your passion well and learn from them. Each learning is a layer that you can process and apply your own take to. The essence is that your approach must always come through the lens of care and kindness. Share honey in each step and stay away from vinegar.
Dig in to listen more, ask questions and process this. Finding ways that you can assist others, help them and support their journey is vital. Discover ways to apply yourself where you can make a difference in your community. You have to go deep with your team, spending individual time with each member to unearth what really matters to them, then find ways to help them in moving forward positively to make a difference in their own lives.
Create and share a model that shows how to make your place better.
Building continuous goodness that is forged over time is something that should not end. Fight for these places, or rituals of goodness, as they can be powerful hubs of bringing people together, gathering for the well-being of all. Creating powerful connections today is vital. Share traditions with joy.
Do greater good
If you have deep care for a place, show it. Get involved in your local community, volunteer for the food bank, support a local non-profit, or start a conservation effort.
Have a hobby
Be really passionate about something. Billy Blewett builds some of the best river boats in North America. Find and build your own river boat. Differentiators are in the details. The process of understanding the grains of wood, following a design pattern and the efforts of assembly all take time. Pouring your heart into something is vital in your life and community.
The ecosystem, nature, guest, guide and experience – all coming together bonded through care, respect and nurturing the environment. That’s what it’s all about.
Let’s look at kitchen time. Mandi and team are super busy, they not only create some of the most amazing food you will ever eat but they also share incredible teamwork and a deep connection of belonging to complement their culinary expertise. That’s what makes the magic happen.
This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about the world of work. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab and guidelines for how to contribute to the column here.