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100 Years of Leadership

February 26, 2020

 

 

1940s

 

The British first used a "creeping barrage" strategy at the Battle of the Somme. However, it was unsuccessful because the infantry was not able to keep up with the barrage and communications with the artillery were limited, leaving the soldiers exposed to German fire. As a result, it failed to provide the means to end the stalemate on the Western Front. The creeping barrage was developed as the war progressed and became more effective.

 

On Easter Monday, 1917, the creeping barrage was effectively executed after  McGill scientist and artillery officer, Andrew McNaughton, coordinated the artillery tactic that minimized casualties and maximized the territory gained. 

 

It was because of the Canadians' persistence and dedication to properly executing the tactic that the use of the creeping barrage cemented Canada's reputation as a dominating force. 

 

Despite the tactic being considered a failure when first executed, McNaughton and the Canadian soldiers demonstrated perseverance and knowledge from past experience in order to be successful. 

 

1980s

 As a world renowned director and producer, Steven Spielberg greatly influenced how films are created, marketed, and distributed. Idolized for his exceptional use of special effects and big budget productions, Spielberg has released some of the highest grossing films in history, including Jaws, the Indiana Jones trilogy, Jurassic Park, Titanic etc. In 1994, Spielberg also became the co-founder of DreamWorks studios. It is through hard work and a passion for innovation that he became one of the most influential film-makers in history. In a career spanning more than four decades, his films were in a variety of genres, like science-fiction, adventure and humanism.

 

In 1982, Spielberg created ET, a timeless tale of friendship between boy and alien. Despite being released in the 80's, the film made more than three quarters of a billion dollars from the global box office and won four oscars. In fact, the director of that year’s Best Picture winner, Richard Attenborough, modestly declared: “I was certain that not only would ET win, but that it should win. It was inventive, powerful, [and] wonderful. I make more mundane movies.”

 

Spielberg was a first mover in the entertainment industry because he was passionate and imaginative.  Although, despite his obvious success, he doesn’t disregard his past experiences with failure. Spielberg applied to U.S.C. film school, but was rejected on three separate accounts. He then decided to attend Long Beach State instead, but dropped out before finishing his degree. Spielberg has taught us over the years that leadership stems from lessons taught by failure. 

 

 

 

1990s

 

Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, submitted a proposal for an information management system to help his colleagues at CERN, the European

Organization for Nuclear Research, share information amongst themselves. After receiving approval of his proposal, he continued to work on the idea and by 1991, the World Wide Web (WWW) was invented. 

 

The first page of TimBerners-Lee's proposal for the World Wide Web, written in March 1989

 

The first ever website and web server, info.cern.ch, was introduced on August 6, 1991, and the first webpage address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html. He wrote the three fundamental technologies that remain prevalent today: HTML, URI, and HTTP

 

 

As the web grew, Berners-Lee realized that it could only reach its true potential if EVERYONE had access to it without paying a fee or having to ask permission. He said: “Had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

In 1993, Berners-Lee ensured that the CERN agreed to make the underlying code available on a royalty-free basis. This decision sparked immense amounts of creativity, collaboration and innovation. He truly wanted to make a difference in the world, understanding the power of the Web and that in the wrong hands it could become a “destroyer of worlds.”

 

Berners-Lee was a groundbreaking leader because he never commercialized or patented the Internet technologies he developed, to ensure everyone had an equal opportunity to use the system. As a result, he never directly profited from his invention! Berners-Lee believes he would never have succeeded if he had charged money for his inventions.  

 

 

2000s

 

Fifteen minutes after takeoff from Boston, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked by five al Qaeda terrorists. 

 

Using crew telephones, flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney calmly relayed information to the control centres on the severity of the situation.  

 

"Okay, my name is Betty Ong. I'm number 3 on Flight 11. And the cockpit is not answering their phone, and there's somebody stabbed in business class, and there's — we can't breathe in business class. Somebody's got mace or something."

Ong explained to the American Airlines reservation center that some of the crew had been murdered and hijackers had overtaken the cockpit. She also included crucial information about the terrorists, such as their seat numbers and what they looked like. Her colleague Amy Sweeney did the same.

 

American Airlines had the names, addresses, and additional information on three of the five hijackers 20 minutes before the plane struck the North Tower, thanks to these selfless flight attendants. These were details that helped the FBI with both further investigation and taking preventative measures to avoid future attacks.

 

Both Ong and Sweeny demonstrated what it means to be a leader. Despite extenuating circumstances that were out of their control, they managed to remain composed and professional for the benefit of the passengers. These remarkable people felt a moral duty to follow protocol and do everything in their power to provide a sense of calm in a situation that struck terror in the hearts of people around the globe. 

 

 

2010s

 

Micheel Obama is arguably the most progressive first lady of all time. Prior to her husband's presidency, during the campaigning period, she was associated with negative stereotypes. When Barack Obama won the federal election, her mandate as first lady was to win people over without betraying herself.

 

 

Michelle Obama understood the platform she was given and the knowledge she had to offer. Despite a lack of support, as she directly contradicted the norm, she saw an opportunity for positive impact and decided to do everything in her power to make a change. Amongst her many initiatives, she encourages young people around the world to work hard and recognize their potential as future leaders. Specifically, on her trip to South Africa in 2011, she said to young African women “leadership is not limited to age or status in life.” It is Michelle Obama's desire to uphold her own identity that motivates people around to world to follow in her footsteps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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