By MELISSA FRYER
June 1, 2011 · 3:14 PM
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Ward Clapham talks about leadership skills he learned as a member of the RCMP. / Photo contributed

An old saying goes that the problem with common sense is that it’s not all that common.

What made sense to Ward Clapham as he rose through the ranks of the RCMP often didn’t mesh with the organization’s command and control structure.

He was reprimanded for playing street hockey with youths in his posting in a northern Alberta community rather than issuing a traffic violation.

New recruits were told not to donate to the United Way because it supported groups like John Howard and Elizabeth Fry societies – organizations that now work closely with the RCMP on policing issues like restorative justice.

Providing soap, towels and facial tissue in the detachment allowed officers to focus on their job, rather than their comfort throughout the day.

Clapham discusses the changes he fought for and the reasons why in his new book, Lead Big. The former Nanaimo Mountie and detachment commander in Richmond uses examples from his career to show people from all occupations the benefits to breaking with the status quo.

“I have a passion around leadership,” Clapham said.

He credits his unique outlook and his willingness to challenge authority to his Nanaimo roots. Clapham grew up in the city during its transition period from small resource community to city centre.

“It wasn’t an easy place to grow up,” he said.

A fan of extreme sports like skiing and hang-gliding – Clapham learned to “fly” in Nanaimo – he headed off to college in Victoria before joining the RCMP.

“I came in with an open mind,” Clapham said.

Since retiring from the force, Clapham is in demand as a speaker, sharing his insight into better leadership. He authored Positive Tickets, about rewarding youth for good behaviour, and co-authored The End of Crime, with Stephen R. Covey, who also wrote the introduction to Lead Big.

Clapham was the keynote speaker at the Crime Stoppers provincial conference in Nanaimo last year and hopes to return for more speaking engagements in his hometown.

“I’d be back so fast if I got an invite,” he said.

For more information, please visit www.proactiveinsights.com or www.leadbig.net.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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