Trailblazing leadership recognized at Walk with Me, 2024

Trailblazing leadership recognized at Walk with Me, 2024

“Journeying with is the essence of leadership” says Nouman Ashraf, a leading expert on leadership practices and organizational culture with the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Bryce McBain shares the stage with three fellow Trailblazers during an awards ceremony at the Walk with Conference in Ottawa.He’s speaking during the opening keynote address at Walk with Me, 2024, the fourth iteration of Canada’s only conference focused on the concept of Culture Change in society’s perception of aging. Ashraf is focused on effective leadership as the ability to find the best in others; “leadership is people work,” he says, and Walk with Me has drawn together hundreds of people from across Canada and around the world to Ottawa to discuss how strong leadership can help propel forward changes in the way we care for and support older adults.

It's fitting that after a day of intense conversations and inspiring group sessions prompted by Ashraf, one Schlegel Villages leader was honoured for his work in inspiring others and journeying alongside the residents he serves in both retirement and long-term care at The Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph. During the evening gala at The National Art Gallery, Bryce McBain was among four recipients of a Trailblazer for Culture Change Award, which recognizes all of the aspects of strong leadership in the journey to change the culture of aging.

Bryce kneels alongside a resident in a wheelchair who is about to go skydiving. The audience was enchanted by stories of Bryce and the Riverside Glen team skydiving with residents or roughly landing hot-air balloons in manure-filled cornfields in the Wellington County countryside, but it was Bryce’s gentle approach to coming alongside residents to learn about their wishes and desires that speaks to why he is a trailblazer.

“I always take time with each resident to ask them what it is in life they want to do or achieve with the time they have remaining, and then I ask the team how we can help make that happen,” Bryce says. It’s not always skydiving or helicopter rides, but often a chance to sit at a pub and perhaps dance to a bit of live music.

It might be attending a concert or a play or singing in a choir again to honour a loved one who is no longer beside you.

“Bryce has brought we seniors to a new level of mindset,” says Barb Merkely, a resident from Riverside Glen who was among more than 25 Schlegel Villages ambassadors to the Walk with Me Conference on Ottawa. “He is one of a kind, passionate about his job; he brings smiles and laughter to all.”

Barb was part of a panel discussion at the conference focused on the importance of authentic relationships as the foundation of quality care, and she shared how Bryce’s relationship with residents helps them maintain a youthful sense of possibility in life.     

We should all hope for such a perspective, and in blazing the trail towards change, there are few better examples than Bryce McBain and the team that inspires him at Riverside Glen. 

Click here to learn more about the Trailblazers for Culture Change awards.