Leadership Lessons from CEO of Northwater Capital Management – David Patterson

(Re-published from April 17, 2008)

My recent ventures took be the the annual meeting of the CBBF (Canadian Baha’i Business Forum) where I was previously honoured with the opportunity to serve as a member of the board. The CBBF is an organization which promotes the principles of:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Sustainable Development
  • Gender Equality in the work place
  • Value Based Leadership
  • Ethical business practices
  • Consultative Decision making
  • A New paradigm of work

One of our invited speakers for the CBBF Annual conference was David Patterson, CEO of Northwater Capital Management, an asset management organization with $8.5 Billion under management which specializes in handling large investments such as pensions and utilizes it’s “market neutral fund of hedge funds”.

The conference theme was “Doing Well by Doing Good: an application of Values Based Leadership”.

David was understated and yet inspirational in his presentation and shared a number of concepts that were divergent from standard organizational theory.

He shared the notion that doing good for the whole system (world, community, organization and family) rather than self focus was strongly encouraged in his organization. The fundamentals of his approach – what’s good for the system is good for the individuals in the system and not necessarily the other way around. While it is difficult to accurately articulate his presentation, as much of it was supported by images of the Northwater working environment and it’s employees participating in world supporting and family events, he also based his assumption and methods on the success that his organization has acheived by using this approach.

In addition to the support of world and community, the company encourages open consultation through the elimantion of status based work spaces, even David has the same desk as other employees, and they frequently call random members into consultations to get alternate points of view.

David’s talk should be one of those talks presented at the TED conference where new and inspirational ideas are presented in many fields of endeavor. There are many companies that could benefit from his leadership model.

Garth Schmalenberg
Executive / Relationship Coach

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