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  • Writer's pictureLeadership Victoria

The Relentless Pursuit of Quality - Ian Chisholm

Ian Chisholm described his first feelings of when the pandemic struck – a mixture of excitement about what comes next and a sense of shame that he had not embraced online technology earlier.

Ian is the President and founder of the Roy Group and a leading voice in local leadership in Victoria. He reflected how this feeling of shame needed to be identified as such, this kind of personal attention to his feelings, honesty about his capacity, the refusal to make excuses and the intent to learn have been important to his personal leadership and the values he teaches others.

“…every accomplishment makes you more prepared for the next accomplishment.”

Ian likes to think of leadership as a story that leaders create for themselves. He recalls his days of apprenticeship and his acceptance of the learning process which helped him to become the leader that he is today.

He quotes his mentor, Robert Henderson from Glasgow, who is now an advisor with the Roy Group:

the best bakers bake the best bread,

He believes that the only thing a leader will ever leave behind is a story - time and age will help to use your own experience to curate your story. He believes that the world needs both experts and practitioners and that the best people continue to do their job despite what others say. Quality heals people.

Ian has very high regard for community leaders and one person he greatly admires is Zita Cobb, the innkeeper at Fogo Island who has found ways to create a thriving community on the remote islands. To Ian, community leadership is a very natural side effect of people leading well. To him, real leadership cannot be slotted into one category when everyone is an intersection of so many things. He is hopeful that even during these times of crisis, he has the opportunity to help out those around him, whether it is his team or his clients.

Awareness. Compassion. Accountability.

Ian lives life and conducts his work with the main principles of Awareness, Compassion and Accountability which he learnt from his colleague Anna Lisa Bond. To him, a leader has the responsibility to be as aware as possible while compassion allows him to let go of past mistakes and move on while acknowledging that there is work left to be done.

Ian believes in taking a stand – whether it is against systemic racism or climate change. To him, being neutral is helping the oppressor.

Ian reminisced of his days of youth growing up in Saskatchewan and his wanderlust that took him travelling and living across the country and the world. His parents and grandfather taught him his first leadership lessons that stayed with him forever. His grandfather’s influence over him was so massive that when he thought of starting his own company, he named it after his grandfather.

The United World College Movement made a big impact on his life and he continues to be inspired by his friends and classmates after all these years. He credits his success to his many mentors he met while working in the Isle of Skye where he went to create a program after a stint working in the inner cities in the US for the Postal Service.

You can learn more about Ian and all of these amazing people he talks about in the links below:

About the Isle of Skye and Columba 1400

About Fogo Island and Zita Cobb

About Robert

About Anna Lisa

About Anne-Marie

About Chiz

About Awareness, Compassion and Accountability

A new article from Disruption Magazine (Page 26 - 27)

An introduction to Roy Group’s approach via video can be found on

Douglas Magazine’s feature on Chiz and Roy Group from 2019 (that you mentioned) can be found at

The September 2020 Douglas Magazine issue that Chiz served as Guest Editor for can be found at

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

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