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  • power

How Greater Leaders Don’t Allow Power to Corrupt Them

“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership.” – Dee Hock

When one thinks of leadership, control and high-title positions often come to mind. But if none of those things fully capture leadership, how can you measure it?

Leadership is “the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group.” It can also be defined as the “ability to lead” or “an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction.” However, leadership is much more than having power over a group, and possessing the authority and capability to guide and direct them. It goes beyond a revered title, embodying values and vision.

Kevin Kruse, an entrepreneur whose companies have won Inc. 500 and Best Place to Work awards, writes: “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” In other words, great leaders don’t domineeringly impose their power, but instead influence others through productive collaboration to fulfill specific goals.

Don’t let power corrupt you

A great leader is someone who inspires others to follow in their example – not in terms of following commands, but trying their best at all times while practising good virtues.

However, behavioural research has found that the desirable qualities that elevate people into powerful and privileged positions are subject to fading and being replaced with unethical behaviour. Dacher Keltner calls this “the power paradox,” in which good qualities pave the way to power but behaviour worsens as a person continues to move up. This phenomenon can be seen practically everywhere – in schools, legislative bodies, sports teams, and workplaces. As a result, those in leadership positions often start to feel overly entitled and lose their moral character.

In fact, studies show that professionals in high positions are three times more likely than their subordinates to interrupt and insult co-workers, not pay attention during meetings, and raise their voices. The actions of leaders who succumb to power corruption has widespread negative consequences. These types of people not only ruin the reputations they’ve built, but also the working environment. Stress and anxiety is created, weakening a group’s performance level and desire to succeed.

In a recent poll, about half of respondents who were treated badly at work said they deliberately put in less effort or lowered the quality of their work. In order to prevent power from corrupting your character and overall group, Keltner stresses it is important to practice self-reflection.

After finding yourself in a new leadership position, constantly check for changes in your behaviour, particularly negative ones. It is easier to fix problematic conduct once one is able to determine what it entails. Taking a breather in a comfortable and quiet place is also a great way to keep one’s focus and calmness in tact.

Keltner also encourages instilling graciousness into one’s character, which involves the ethics of empathy, gratitude, and generosity. Empathy helps leaders understand the concerns of their team and establish a collective goal beneficial for all. On the other hand, gratitude involves thanking people for their hard work and dedication, displaying appreciation for jobs well done. Lastly, generosity entails sharing knowledge, opportunities, and credit where it is rightfully due. The combination of these morals and good practices will greatly benefit how well a group works together and what they will be able to achieve.

“…[Lead] the way by not being selfish. The more you empower others… and embrace team and mentoring – I guarantee, you will manifest more opportunity than you can handle,” says Gerard Adams, founder of Elite Daily.

Overall, maintaining the virtuous qualities that granted you power is key in the longevity and effectiveness of your run as a leader.

Furthermore, leadership does not develop overnight. It is “a learned skill, not a genetic grant,” says writer Michael J. Farlow. In order to rise through the ranks and be worthy of the “leader” title, it is important to establish and hone certain characteristics.

“A first step is developing greater self-awareness. When you take on a senior role, you need to be attentive to the feelings that accompany your newfound power and to any changes in your behavior.”

9 traits that great leaders possess


A leader should not only be confident in their own capabilities – but should also believe in the potential that their team holds. This way, the group can approach any situation aiming for real results. 


It is necessary for leaders to learn how to make firm decisions that they can stand by, for this is a recurring duty entailed within such a position.


Leaders should have a set vision that they will vigorously pursue. This requires a game plan (plus many back-ups), and a push for organization and unity.


It is motivating for group members to see those in authoritative positions putting in as much effort as they do. People should be hardworking at all levels; leadership should not serve as a free pass to sit back and relax. Once commitment is instilled throughout the entire group, goals will be much easier to achieve.


Leadership does not give someone the right to pass the blame onto others. A great leader takes responsibility for the entire group’s performance, whether it is positive or negative. This entails honesty in times of failure and guidance towards finding solutions.


Thinking outside the box will not only help leaders set themselves and their group apart from potential competition – but it will also be helpful when problem solving is required.


Leadership involves a lot of social interaction, as one guides and directs others. Hence, it is important to know how to empathize with people, listen and support them during both their ups and downs. This will foster better working relationships, contributing to overall productivity.



It is important for leaders to stay positive, particularly in times of difficulty (which are sadly unavoidable), in order to keep a group afloat. Dwelling on the negative will only bring down the team and their desire to keep going.

Desire for challenges

A leader’s list of goals should not end. They should always strive to be better and seek the next challenge that they will overcome.

A Harvard Business Review study shows that the average age of employees in leadership development programs is 42 – much older than the average age of an employee in a leadership role, which is 30. The study reveals that employees occupy leadership roles for approximately a decade before undergoing any training.

Why you’re waiting far too long to begin leadership development.

  • Successful businessman with strong shadow

Focus on Sharpening Your Strengths

Much has been made throughout our society that we need to constantly focus on improving our weaknesses. It has almost been a widespread fallacy that we need to spend all our time and energy towards building up our weaknesses instead of sharpening and strengthening our strong suits.

It can almost be viewed as a reflection of our society as a whole, as we have a bait of focusing strictly on what is wrong with the world, instead of looking at our cumulative strengths; we have a constant narrative and magnifying glass looking at the negative.

Create a Culture Where Strengths Thrive

Gallup created the science of strengths.

Gallup has studied thousands of work teams and millions of leaders, managers, and employees for more than five decades to understand a clear assessment of their skills and abilities. What they have found is that there’s significant potential in developing what is innately right with people – versus trying to fix what’s wrong with them.

They found out that people who use their strengths every day are 6x more likely to be engaged on the job and teams that focus on their strengths are 12.5% more productive. Focus instead on what you are already naturally talented at to turn it from good to great. The idea was the focus on 1-2 key strengths and grow them even stronger instead of bundling strengths as a whole.

Successful Entrepreneurs Play to Their Strengths  

Entrepreneurs want to naturally do everything themselves, which can actually be a very counterintuitive trait. The wise ones are acutely aware of their strengths and know how to optimize them. Consider if they spent all their time and energy on every task – they would be handling all the bookkeeping down to manually sending out tweets instead of bringing on experts to help to manage these areas.

Growth on your weaknesses could be at a much slower rate, like investing in a low interest growth account with your money. It’s going to take a long time before it starts paying dividends. It all boils down to your investment being made. According to Psychology Today, studies have found that leaders who focus on the strengths of employees benefit from lower levels of staff turnover, higher levels of productivity, more satisfied customers, and greater profitability. You want to encourage individuals to work at their strong suits, because it can lead to greater job satisfaction, higher levels of confidence and creativity and agility at work.

Don’t Just Completely Push Your Weaknesses Aside  

“I sincerely believe in ‘play to your strengths.’ One could become mediocre when he or she focus on weakness – but focusing on strengths only can take people to excellence.” – Sivakumar Palaniappan

The argument and key take away here shouldn’t be that you brush aside your weaknesses completely; it’s just that it will progress at a much slower rate. Improving your weaknesses can ultimately consume a lot of your energy, time, and attention away from excelling in your career. Be cognizant of where you lag at, if you could get help from someone who excels in that area or might provide assistance to put a plan in place to address it.

“I agree you should always focus on your strengths, but I also think you should not forget about your weaknesses, spend your time wisely, but don’t fall for that easy way out by saying: hey, it’s not my strength…[and] shirk and delegate to others.” – Rogier van der Maas

  • An aerial view of Toronto, Canada at night

Toronto on Track to Become North American Hub for Tech Startups

This article is based off an on-air interview with Mike Eppel from 680 News Toronto

With the overflowing competition in Silicon Valley, it may be time for tech companies to consider relocating to north of the 49th parallel. Last year, three Canadian cities – Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal – placed in Startup Compass’ top 20 startup ecosystems in the world. Toronto, in particular, has put Silicon Valley on notice as its startup culture continues to thrive and build upon previous tech success stories.

In fact, tech blog TechCrunch hailed Toronto as the next addition set to join the league of prime North American hubs for technology startups within the next five to 10 years. The city has a strong and expanding network of local venture capitalists looking for investments that could potentially follow in the footsteps of successful home-grown businesses like FreshBooks, Influitive, and Wattpad.

There are between 2,500 and 4,100 tech startups that operate in Toronto. When combined with its more established counterparts, the city accounts for 35 per cent of Canada’s technology businesses, employing about 159,000 people.

With Toronto’s tech industry continuously gaining momentum, a lot of the highly-skilled people who left to work in Silicon Valley are coming back to build businesses in Canada.

Why Toronto is poised to be the next great producer of tech startups.

The Loonie  

Over the last three years, the Canadian dollar has been weaker in comparison to the U.S. dollar. Canadians may not be too happy about this, but the difference is getting a lot of positive attention from American investors.

Private-equity and venture capital companies “look at Canadian investments as having a 30 per cent discount compared to American investments,” explained Martyn Bassett in an interview with 680 News. 

Also, “employee costs are less expensive than what you’d have to pay in the United States, particularly around San Francisco,” said Bassett.

These favourable conditions have encouraged more funding from south of the border. The first few months of 2016 saw Canadian startups raise a record amount of money from American venture capital and private-equity investors. Altogether, private companies in Canada garnered $881 million from funding in this first quarter.

Government funding

In the year spanning 2016/2017, the federal government is expected to spend $10.7 billion on science and technology. This is a 1 per cent increase from last year. The federal government and Ontario’s provincial government have also set up several grants and financial assistance programs dedicated to the development of technological innovation.

Toronto’s top talent

The downsizing of Waterloo-based RIM, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, has also unleashed a wealth of talented engineers and other tech specialists into the GTA. This means that more qualified potential employees are readily available for startups wanting to build efficient teams.

There’s also a monthly TechToronto Meetup, which provides the city’s tech community with opportunities to network and learn from what other companies are doing.

Post-secondary schools’ support

According to TechCrunch, Toronto “produces the most engineering-focused university graduates each year” in North America. The city is home to acclaimed institutions, like the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, known for their tech and engineering programs.

Furthermore, such post-secondary schools run startup incubators and accelerators like U of T’s Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and Ryerson’s DMZ that was named the #1 university business incubator in North America by UBI Global in 2015. The DMZ has housed 260 startups, created more than 2,400 jobs, and raised $206 million in seed funding since it was launched six years ago. These institutions’ support for the tech industry and startup culture is the starting block or the foundation upon which companies are going to build or grow their team.

Previous tech triumphs

Toronto has been home to previous tech success stories like marketing automation company Eloqua.

“One of the companies that we worked with was Eloqua. And they went from a very small company doing $3 million a year. We built a team that took them to $30 [million],” shared Bassett.

Later on, the company brought in different leadership, which increased their profits to $100 million a year. Eloqua then went public, and was eventually acquired by computer technology powerhouse Oracle.

“When a Toronto-based company gets acquired by Oracle for a billion dollars, this is big news,” said Bassett.

Wattpad is another Toronto-based company that has gained a spot in the city’s startup hall of fame. The world’s largest story-sharing site has raised $67 million from investors. As a result, Wattpad has its eyes on expanding into film and television by collaborating with Hollywood to set up a production studio.

Based on past home-grown successes and the various factors supporting the continuously growing number of startups, launching in Toronto seems like the next best step for a tech company.

“I have say that I’m extremely optimistic about the future of where things are going in Toronto in the tech space,” said Bassett.

Listen to the full interview with Mike Eppel from 680 News Toronto right here.


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Martyn and his firm are awesome at hiring salespeople and sales leaders. He pretty much staffed up our entire sales team at Eloqua.

We benchmarked him against the best, even local recruiting firms and we found that Martyn could bring on better people, with less yield loss, from Toronto.

Mark Organ
CEO, Influitive
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You can spend weeks, even months, in search of the right candidate. Or you can work with someone that knows where to look and save yourself the headache. I gave Martyn Bassett a job description and watched him repeatedly deliver on that from within the sales talent pool.

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Innovation is the key to success, which is why I trusted Martyn to build the product management team that’s pioneering our next generation of software. These were strategic, technical roles and – as usual – Martyn’s team delivered nothing less than the ideal candidate.
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President, Leonardo
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We drew up a very specific wishlist for our Business Development Executive – which included experience in managed and professional services, consistent over-performance and experience as a consultant – before we retained Martyn. We had no guarantee that candidate was on the market but Martyn’s team produced several that ticked all the boxes and one that exceeded our expectations.
Steven Graham
Managing Director, Computer Aid
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Martyn has access to a seemingly limitless number of talented sales leaders and he is sure to understand business needs and present only fully vetted candidates. I wholly recommend him for anyone – candidate or hiring manager – looking to find the right home for talented sales leaders.
Chris French
VP Enterprise – Eastern Region, Globoforce
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Having gone through interviews and job negotiations many times on my own before, I have to say that being presented by a recruiter this time made the process so much smoother. I’m sure that myself and my employer are both happier with the outcome as a result of working with Martyn Bassett Associates through the process.
Eric Bradnam
Solutions Architect –  Channel Sales, Dundas Data Visualization
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Martyn’s ability to bring talent to you is a benefit in and of itself, but what truly impressed me is his understanding of what you need and what you don’t need and having the conversation about it.

I looked at Martyn as more than the guy bringing talent to me – I looked to him for advice throughout the process.

Jamie Schneiderman
CEO, Clearfit
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A company is only as successful as its talented people, which is why we turned to Martyn to find us the right people, for the right roles, at critical points in Leonardo’s growth.

Having top talent in place has helped the company’s transformation from a small media production company to a digital technology company serving the global hospitality industry. The quality of talent that Martyn has brought us is unmatched.

Paolo Boni
CEO, Leonardo
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It’s a tricky thing to find the right people based in Toronto who can go and sell to distant markets and how to sell in a SaaS world with the right language skills – you can imagine it’s like finding a needle in a haystack and Martyn came up with great candidates that we used to fill a number of roles.
Greg Durand
VP, Global Sales, Medgate
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