With the year drawing to an end, I wanted to close the loop by sharing an example of someone who showed themselves worthy of consideration as leader of the year. By highlighting this not widely known leader, it may give you ideas for new directions to take your leadership in the new year.

How a leader of the year stands out.

John Evans was an exceptional Canadian leader who died in February of 2015 at the age of 85. I want to highlight not what he did in this year particularly, but his leadership over his lifetime. His obituary from the Toronto Star serves as an excellent window into his revolutionary contributions and visionary approach.

Evans brought a visionary approach to all of the organizations he led. Click To Tweet When he was only 35, Evans was asked to start a new medical school at McMaster University in Canada and rather than replicating the other schools around the country, he created an entirely new model. Instead of having students learn anatomy by rote, he introduced them to real patients in their first semester and had them research diagnosis and treatment.

The “McMaster model” is now hailed as one of the greatest innovations in medicine and widely imitated around the world.

Evans brought this visionary approach to all of the organizations he led, including Canadian biotech pioneer Allelix, the University of Toronto and the Rockefeller Foundation. He also founded MaRS, an innovation hub in Toronto.

He was a model of what Jim Collins calls a Level 5 Leader. They have vision, creativity, humility, an ability to collaborate and can build organizations that outlive them. As former University of Toronto President, John Prichard said about John Evans, “He spent his entire life serving, using his abundant talent to make the world better.”

What is so inspiring about this leader?

John Evans was my uncle. He showed me that it’s possible for a leader to make contributions to entirely different types of organizations and sectors (he advocated changing jobs every seven years!). Most significantly I will always remember the warm way in which he connected with people and was able to inspire others to serve a bigger purpose. He was an empathetic and visionary leader who demonstrated the power of bringing a clear vision, curiosity, kindness and a sense of humor to his work.

Great leaders have vision, creativity, humility, an ability to collaborate and build. Click To Tweet

When working with CEO’s and other executive level clients who are seeking breakthroughs for their organizations, I often call John to mind as a model of what’s possible and how he measures up to be a leader of the year. I am grateful to have loved and been loved by such a great human being, and I miss him.

Learn more about John Evans and his leadership.

As managing principal of Corcoran Leadership, Heather is a seasoned Executive Coach that helps leaders get to where they want and need to be. Learn more about Heather, connect with her on LinkedIn, send her an Email, or just call 415.991.5177.