The Leadership Lab: Rose Patten

In the latest Leadership Lab episode, Susanna Kempe and Dr Rose Patten, Chancellor of the University of Toronto, explore the essence of 'Intentional Leadership' and the pivotal role adaptability plays in today's diverse world.
The Leadership Lab: Rose Patten


In the latest edition of the Leadership Lab series, Susanna Kempe, CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation, sits down with Dr Rose Patten, the 34th Chancellor of the University of Toronto. They discuss both her personal leadership journey across three sectors and her new book on Intentional Leadership.

Among her many accolades, Dr Patten has been recognised by U.S. Banker Magazine as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking, inducted into the Hall of Fame of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Awards in 2007, and received the YWCA’s Woman of Distinction Award for Corporate Leadership in 2009. Her contributions have also been honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017, further solidifying her as a beacon of leadership and integrity.

Highlighting the moments that helped shaped her leadership ethos, Dr Patten shares with Susanna, “It was really after the financial crisis, with all the scandals, deceit, and disappointments in leadership…that got my attention, because we’ve been silent about character in our world.”

They talk about being adaptable, the significance of mentorship, and the crucial ‘Big Eight’ leadership skills outlined in Dr Patten’s book, ‘Intentional Leadership: The Big 8 Capabilities Setting Leaders Apart.’ Through stories from her career, Dr Patten brings to life the human side of leadership, emphasising the importance of openness in leadership success.

Another notable moment is when Dr Patten emphasises the value of lifting others on their leadership journey, stating, “My passion is about making every leader better.”

This episode of Leadership Lab not only unravels the complexities of leadership through Dr Patten’s experiences but also serves as a beacon for those aspiring to lead with intentionality in an ever-evolving world. Tune in for an enlightening journey filled with wisdom, practical advice, and Dr Patten’s insights on navigating the challenges and opportunities of leadership today.


00:30 | We talk a lot with our Scholars about leadership being a journey, not a destination. Where did it begin for you and what have you learned along the way? 

03:25 | Having led in diverse sectors such as finance, healthcare, and education, what unique insights or advantages do you believe this cross-sector leadership experience has afforded you?

05:20 | You are highly sought-after as an authority on the study and practise of leadership which is obviously a subject very close to our heart at the Laidlaw Foundation. It is a topic that you have worked and reflected on for decades, including in your book Intentional Leadership, that explores the Big 8 defining capabilities of a leader. Can you share how you ended up selecting these 8 capabilities?

14:35 | Can you delve into the idea of a "defining moment"? What was such a moment for you, and how has it shaped your path?

20:57 | In 2007 you were inducted into the Hall of Fame of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, which is a fabulous testament to your success. You were cited as a great role model for women. What does that mean to you?

23:27 | The University of Toronto re-named the Rose Patten Mentoring Leadership Program in your honour, based on the importance you place in mentorship initiatives.  Why do you endorse mentorship programs?

26:52 | What advice would you offer to our Scholars who are seeking mentors or are on the path to becoming mentors themselves?

30:00 | Reflecting on mantras for personal motivation, similar to Dame Sally Mapstone's daily reflection on combatting injustice, and Chris Paxson's search for joy, do you have any personal mantras that guide your daily intentions or actions?

31:28 | You mentioned previously that one of the joys of being Chancellor is having the opportunity to meet amazing leaders. Are there any common qualities or traits you've observed in these leaders that particularly stand out?

34:18 | Your book has achieved global recognition, resonating in countries like China and India. Do you attribute its widespread success to a contemporary view that leadership is becoming increasingly complex, given today's global challenges, fragmentation, and polarisation?

36:05 | Looking back, what wisdom or knowledge do you wish you had at the age of 30 that you possess now?

Photograph by Lisa Lightbourn

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Go to the profile of Susanna Kempe
2 months ago

Dr Rose Patten incredibly graciously carved out time in her whirlwind visit to the UK to meet with me. It is the first of these interviews that I have done in person and I think it made for an even more open conversation. There was literally no space between us. 

Inducted into the Hall of Fame of Canada’s top 100 Most Powerful Women over a decade ago, holding leadership roles in finance, health and academia, as well as being a special advisor and mentor to countless CEOs, as Princess mentions, I fully expected her to be wildly intimidating. She isn’t, at all. She came straight from a delayed flight, into an unexpectedly noisy venue which was frankly less than ideal for filming, and handled it all with charm and absolutely zero fuss. She radiates quiet intelligence and intentionality.

I think Scholars will be particularly interested in why everyone should be BOTH a mentor and a mentee, as well as why we can no longer think singly. 

I was as struck listening back to the interview as much by the power of what she left unsaid as to what she answered. See what you think, particularly around my questions on women in leadership.

The question she asks herself and every leader she meets, somehow manages to be so powerful, surprising and yet totally obvious in retrospect, all at once, that it is worth listening to just for that. At least I think so, hope you agree!