Dan Pontefract

Dan Pontefract

Leadership and Work Culture Expert | Bestselling Author

Your people are your most valuable asset, and if you want them to excel ― and profits to soar — you need to abandon traditional management styles and adopt a more collaborative, open leadership approach; one that engages and empowers your staff. Dan Pontefract, bestselling author of Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged OrganizationThe Purpose EffectOpen to Think, and Lead. Care. Win, shares leadership tools that push the boundaries of organizational change to create workplace cultures that shine.

Pontefract is currently the founder and CEO of The Pontefract Group, a consultant firm focused on leadership and organizational culture, as well as an adjunct professor at University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business. Prior to this, he spent 10 years as the Head of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS, where he was responsible for the overarching learning, collaboration, and leadership development strategy for the company.

While at Telus, Pontefract championed the introduction of the TELUS Leadership Philosophy (TLP), a collaborative-based leadership framework for 50,000+ team members. In parallel to these actions, he drove a philosophical and cultural shift in the way TELUS views and experiences learning and further championed the use and deployment of collaborative technologies to complement both the leadership and learning frameworks. Between 2008 and 2018, employee engagement at TELUS soared from 53% to nearly 90%.

Pontefract’s innovation also led to the introduction of the TELUS MBA — run in partnership with the University of Victoria — which allows TELUS team members the opportunity to earn an MBA over two years. The program has won three international awards and delivered new revenues and savings in excess of $300m. As Chief Envisioner, he also founded the Transformation Office, an external consulting arm that helped TELUS clients improve their internal culture and leadership practices.

In 2010, Pontefract received the “Vanguard Award” from Chief Learning Officer (CLO) magazine, and was a two-time winner of the “Leader of the Year” award from Corporate University Best in Class Awards in both 2010 and 2011. He was also named the “Learning Leader of the Year” for his work at Telus by SkillSoft in 2012, and was awarded CLO magazine’s “Learning in Practice Innovation Award”. Pontefract is also the recipient of the Brandon-Hall “Gold Award in Strategy & Governance,” and in 2015, his team became a ten-time winner of the prestigious “ATD BEST” award and was the first recipient of the ATD Hall of Fame distinction. In 2013 and 2014, TELUS also placed in the top ten of the Learning! 100 Awards.

Prior to TELUS, Pontefract held senior positions over twelve years with SAP, Business Objects, Crystal Decisions, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). He is a renowned speaker who has delivered over 100 external keynotes and presentations since 2009, including a TEDx Talk.


A Field Guide to Genuine Leadership

Genuine leadership — how leaders act as human beings in their daily and strategic work with employees, customers, and stakeholders — is arguably missing in many of today’s organizations. The reasons are all too familiar:

  • Command and control leadership tendencies.
  • Lack of collaboration amongst and between internal teams/departments.
  • Hoarding of information, content, and intellectual property.
  • Power as a sense of entitlement and the means of execution.
  • Failure to empathize or to recognize the humanity of getting things done.

It has to stop. Bestselling author Dan Pontefract recommends several leadership strategies and techniques that are sure to get you thinking about your own leadership habits and track record. This keynote tackles the many taboos of bad leadership, while outlining practical, meaningful ways in which to become a more humane and effective leader.

The Critical Importance of Workplace Culture to Employee Engagement

Ever wonder why global levels of employee engagement in organizations continue to wane and remain so incredibly low? For leaders in any organization seeking to improve productivity and business results, they must first start with its own operating culture.

To improve organizational culture is to build up and unleash behaviours that permit employees to connect and collaborate with one another effortlessly and full of goodwill. An employee only becomes engaged when the culture is open, transparent, communicative, collaborative and trustworthy. These are just some of the behaviours that must define how an organization operates. Bestselling author Dan Pontefract implores organizations to rethink its workplace culture by instituting systemic-wide behaviours that encourage one another to work together versus in silos or competitively.

Engagement of employees occurs as a result of how they feel about the organization’s culture and its purpose. There is a way to fix it, and Pontefract has a way to help you out.

Why Purpose Matters for Employees and the Organization

Leaders may not know it yet, but having a sense of purpose has become table stakes for many employees at work. Equally important, today’s organizations are being pressured to begin exhibiting purpose in their operating practices. If there is a positive interconnection between the three distinct categories of purpose — personal, role, and organizational — the benefits will be felt by all stakeholders. Bestselling author Dan Pontefract refers to this balanced state of purpose as the “sweet spot”. The alignment of purpose between self, role, and organization is important not only for employees, but for leaders in the organization itself. The more a leader can assist employees to understand the alignment of personal, organizational, and role purpose, the quicker everyone will recognize how important the “sweet spot” is to an engaging and fulfilling lifetime of work. The quicker an employee defines, develops, and decides their purpose — alongside how bought in they are to the organization’s purpose — the more engaged and innovative they will be in their role… and in their life in general.

We Are Losing the Ability to Think, and What to Do About It

Many of our current systems train us merely to function. We learn the routine. We master the process. The regiment starts at school, continues at university, and goes into overdrive when we begin to work. The problem? Ultimately, we have lost the ability to think critically, be creative, and contemplate ideas of the unknown.

Standards, procedures, technology, and incessant demand for short-term results over long-term planning are the big winners. In order to mitigate such calamities including the relentless pursuit of action and the pressure to “do more with less,” individuals must return to a state of balance between the three components of productive thought: dreaming, deciding, and doing. In this talk, bestselling author Dan Pontefract introduces tangible, actionable strategies to improve the way we think as organizations and individuals through the cyclical process of Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, and Applied Thinking.

To become an Open Thinker, one must understand the relationship between reflection and action, and how it can negatively or positively affect an outcome. Dream. Decide. Do. Repeat.