Bruce McLeod: ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’
Updated: Aug 11
My friend and colleague Bruce McLeod believed in being in service to others.
It was his mission – both in life and in his work – to help others find their true purpose in life and then to guide them into living that purpose.
Bruce was so very passionate about leadership coaching. He was deeply committed to his calling as a coach and so relentlessly dedicated to his clients.
We lost Bruce on July 11 when he passed away suddenly due to an unexpected medical issue.
At Vision Coaching, we continue to grapple with the loss of a cherished colleague knowing that his family suffers a much deeper loss of a loving husband, father and grandfather.
I have had the privilege of working with Bruce over many years, the last seven in a much closer way as he served as General Manager of Coaching Services for Vision Coaching.
Much more than a colleague
To me and to us, he was much more than a colleague.
Bruce was one of those people who was so caring, so selfless and so engaging that you couldn’t help but want to be his friend.
To know Bruce McLeod was to love him.
I would most often introduce him to clients as “Bruce McLeod, a.k.a. The Most Interesting Man in the World.”
Some may have assumed it was hyperbole but I meant it.
Bruce had not just the character to back that up, but the rich life, educational and career experience.
In addition to being an indispensable part of Vision Coaching, Bruce had his own coaching firm – Live Big Coaching.
Encouraged others to live big
That was a perfect name: Bruce lived big himself, and certainly encouraged everyone else to live big too.
It was such a reflection of his personality. He had a big presence – gregarious and witty, he brought to every conversation a uniquely intelligent and entertaining perspective that was enriched by his varied life experience.
For Bruce, it was truly family first – nothing was bigger than his love and devotion to his wife, Lori, and three children: Hope, Matthew and Grant. Of course, that love would grow to embrace their spouses, nieces and nephews, in-laws and so many others. In recent years, he revelled in the magic of having grandsons, Barrett and Watson.
He was so very proud of his family – at our regular Friday morning meetings, he would regale us with stories and achievements. Somehow, family photos found their way into presentations to clients.
Bruce was truly a lifelong learner, thirsty for knowledge. The certifications, degrees, courses and designations are as numerous as they are varied – from law to human resources to teaching and, of course, executive coaching.
For Bruce, it was always about being in service to others. In my view, there is nothing more noble than that.
That echoed his career experience. His first job after graduating from university with a degree in law and psychology, he found a job as an investment manager at a local bank branch.
After it was robbed three times, Bruce decided it was time to find something else to do.
He went on to become a professor, teaching business at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science And Technology. He went on from there to work in HR for both public and private-sector organizations, capping his HR career as global vice-president of human resources for a pharmaceutical company.
Over a career spanning more than four decades and several provinces, the biggest leap for him was to leave that corporate world to embark on an entrepreneurial journey as an executive coach.
Bruce enrolled in the Executive Coaching program at Royal Roads University in 2011 while still in the global VP role, and it was an eye-opening experience.
Life forever changed
He would recount how, by the third day at Royal Roads, his life was forever changed when he was asked: “What is keeping your executive job and perks costing you?”
After graduating from the Royal Roads program, he launched Live Big with the mantra: “Know Your Purpose, Make It Your Practice.”
Within just a couple of years of that, he was also teaching at Royal Roads as an associate faculty member in the executive coaching program, teaching and developing curriculum – including a very popular course on how to start your own coaching company.
By 2015, he had joined Vision Coaching – all while running Live Big and continuing to teach at Royal Roads. It was abundantly clear to Bruce and to all who knew him that coaching was his own true passion.
Helped thousands of leaders
Over the years, it is estimated that Bruce had taught 1,000 or more students at Royal Roads. Combined with the hundreds upon hundreds of people touched by his coaching work with clients, Bruce had a tremendous impact on thousands of leaders in Canada and around the world.
Bruce was skillful in the use of story and gifted in modelling the strength of vulnerability. Bruce loved to encourage people to dig deeper in understanding themselves and their challenges.
He was a master in inspiring leaders to find the solutions, to be better versions of themselves, to be better leaders.
His own experiences in leadership and entrepreneurship fed a fountain of wisdom that he would share with clients and students alike.
'An open heart'
In the days after his death, Bruce’s wife, Lori, asked if I would speak at his funeral service. While deeply honoured, I worried if I could possibly do my friend justice. I struggle with that here too, writing this.
In preparing my thoughts for the service, I asked those that worked with Bruce through Vision Coaching to share with me a word that encompassed Bruce for them. Just about everyone came back with more, unable to come up with only one.
They described him as “fiercely compassionate”, a man of “humility” and “care and kindness” who was “generous and genuine” and “engaged and engaging.”
“His gift was an open heart and a genuine belief that people were amazing and some just needed help to get out of their own way,” said one.
A trusting invitation to lean in
Added another: “Bruce did everything from a place of love, including challenging me/others to go deep/big and find meaning in things.”
And still another: “He created a trusting invitation...to lean in, share what you really thought, to be more courageous, more caring, more thoughtful.”
It is so very hard to write about Bruce, who meant so very much to me, to his family and to so many others. How can I possibly do justice to the person he was? This represents my very best effort.
Sharing conversations with Bruce
Despite this best effort, it is so difficult to describe in words the depth of passion and conviction he had, for coaching and for the success of others.
For a glimpse of that, I invite you to listen to podcast interviews with Bruce where he discusses some of his passions – like being wholly capable, the importance of organizational culture and about having difficult conversations.
Despite all of Bruce’s accomplishments, despite all the degrees he earned and titles he had, the most impressive and most important is how consistently he showed up for others.
For Bruce, it was always about that – it was always about being in service to others.
In my view, there is nothing more noble than that.