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  • Writer's pictureMark Crocker

Get Things Done - the leadership of Mayor Lisa Helps

In 2018, Mayor Lisa Helps took one of the greatest “risks” of her political career – removing the controversial statue of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald from City Hall. It was a move that was termed “political suicide” by many others but that did not deter Lisa from doing what she knew was the right thing on the path to reconciliation.

Mayor Lisa Helps in Conversation with Mark Crocker.

Lisa learned those lessons early in life. Growing up in London, Ontario she remembers her earliest experiences of leadership in grade 8 where she and a few friends formed a group to clear their neighborhood litter. To Lisa, that laid the foundation of her collaborative leadership style. She understood leadership was not long lectures with serious words. Leadership was found in the everyday small things that bring people together towards a common goal.

“Bring people together, create a shared vision, and get things done.”

Coming to Victoria as a student at UVic, Lisa fell in love with the city and never left. She made it her life’s mission to make her beloved city future-ready and that has not come without some risks or controversy.

Lisa thinks back to the many risks she has taken in her political career and credits her early leadership experiences of thinking out of the box and pushing boundaries in shaping her leadership style.

“Difficult doesn’t mean don’t do it.”

This belief brought her into public service wherein she has focused on amplifying diverse voices to a common platform so that every voice is heard.

Lisa Helps is the 52nd Mayor of Victoria and the second female mayor of the city. She was first elected to office in 2014 by a narrow margin and reelected in 2018 with overwhelming support. She has taken it upon herself to make Victoria a city that is ready for the future and her signature policies can be seen transforming the city in many ways.

Mayor Helps tries to make sure that all voices are made to feel welcome and feels that the richest meetings are ones that takes all perspectives into consideration. To this end, she moved from hosting board meetings to lunch meetings at which people could feel welcome discussing their problems and presenting their views.

“Coming out of COVID, we need to build back better.”

The pandemic has taught Lisa that there are still many things are yet to be achieved. Covid 19 has exposed the many fault lines in society. It has also made clear the climate emergency that the world is facing and the fact that human action can make it better.

While working hard during the pandemic, Lisa is also spending her time reading to find new ways of creating the world we want to live in. As she concludes her second (and final) term as mayor Lisa is looking forward to continuing the work to make things better. An ‘abundance mentality’ is what helps Lisa to stay on track and work towards building Victoria 3.0 – a city ready for the next 20 years. You may be interested in discovering what has most recently influenced Mayor Helps thinking, check our her book recommendations here:

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think like a 21st Century Economist by Kate Raworth

The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley by Greg Horowitt


By Chandrima Mazumdar, I write on topics related to leadership, diversity, media and gender equality.

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