Paul Cantor (’62 BA) has been a leader for more than 50 years, beginning as a student when he was named chair of the fund drive for World University Service of Canada. These days, he is chair of QuadReal Property Group’s board of directors. The financial expert and community-builder shares a few thoughts about leadership.
Cantor credits his arts degree with giving him a foundation from which to work. “It provided me with context for just about every decision I had to make later on in life,” he says of his liberal arts education. “It made me understand the importance of putting issues in context and gave me the tolerance to be respectful of other people’s opinions.”
“[My arts degree] gave me the tolerance to be respectful of other people’s opinions.” -Paul Cantor
He has learned to assess leadership. “I made it my business to develop tools and methodology so that I would not have to trust my instincts to identify leadership. It is my view that people who trust their instincts to assess leadership usually end up duplicating themselves. We will never make progress in diversity and in merit appointments if we leave people to trust their instincts to make leadership decisions.”
Leadership, he says, is all about other people and empowering them to achieve things on their own. “You have to articulate your vision in a way that inspires people,” he says. “You can provide advice and guidance that allow people to work together and maximize their abilities. … But leadership is not always a democracy, and sometimes you have to say to people: ‘This is what I wish you to do.’ ”
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