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Leadership lessons from Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Davos participants

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Ceri Parker
Previously Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum
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Davos Agenda

Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada last year at the age of just 43, championing an optimistic and open-minded view of his country’s future. One of his first moves was to appoint a cabinet with 50% women and a mix of ethnicities. He represents a new kind of leadership. As Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, put it while welcoming him to the stage at Davos, “I couldn’t imagine anyone who could represent more the world that will come out of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”


In a special address which covered technology, creativity and diversity, Prime Minister Trudeau shared his views on leadership.

“Leadership should be focused on extending the ladder of opportunity for everyone,” he said. In today’s context, this means ensuring that the gains of new technology are evenly spread to benefit society and build a broad middle class.

“New technology is always dazzling, but we don’t want technology simply because it is dazzling. We want it, create it and support it because it improves people’s lives… Technology needs to serve the cause of human progress,” he said.

At a meeting grappling with severe global challenges, from economic volatility to the refugee crisis, Trudeau struck an upbeat tone.

“Positive leadership creates a virtuous circle,” he said, adding: “People can respond to a positive, inclusive vision of society. The result is creativity that enriches Canada and the world.”


His speech also emphasized the links between creativity and diversity. Prime Minister Trudeau cited the success of Silicon Valley, which thrives on a diverse workforce, before explaining his view of Syrian refugees arriving in Canada:

“I welcomed them as new Canadians and the future of the Canadian economy. Diversity isn’t just sound policy, it’s the engine of invention.”

The Annual Meeting is taking place in Davos from 20 to 23 January, under the theme “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

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