Personal Leadership

For the leader within all of us


What will you bring to the table?

Danny Abriel (Design Services, Communications & Marketing)

Q&A with Danny Abriel: artist, storyteller, friend, colleague

What does personal leadership look like to you?

Personal leadership is the ability to create an environment in which results can happen effectively and with meaning. If you focus more on creating the right atmosphere and building a culture that promotes the meaning and value of what people do, rather than focus solely on the results you are trying to accomplish, you actually get better results.

What do you think is the most important aspect of personal leadership?

I think integrity is key. You also need to be very self-aware, and demonstrate an awareness or understanding of the “connections,” the many relationships between people, projects, etc.

How do you demonstrate leadership at work?

Sometimes, effective leadership is invisible. A lot of what I do depends on relationships and buy-in. I need to connect with people and establish rapport very quickly, and bring all of the elements together to get a project done. This means constantly adjusting to different people with different needs, personalities, stories, etc. to produce a tangible result that captures a certain intangible emotion or feeling. While pulling all of the elements together, it’s important to always keep the big picture (no pun intended) in mind and make sure that the environment is conducive to the results we are seeking.

What impact do you believe or hope to have on the people that work with you?

I truly do value people and I’m sincerely interested in who they are and what they do. I hope that leaves people with an overall positive experience when working with me. This can be particularly important when working with clients, because having your picture taken can make some people feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. In addition to creating the right atmosphere, when you demonstrate proficiency and expertise it puts people at ease, which then allows for more creativity.

I think my C&M colleagues would say the same: that I value their ideas and opinions. I think I’m collaborative, open and honest, and I love to help other team members with their projects. 

“Danny has an amazing rapport with both his colleagues and his photography subjects,” says Ryan McNutt, Dal News editor. “He approaches his work with an infectious confidence and a gigantic sense of humour. I’ve had many people write me after working with Danny and tell me how great an experience it was.”

What continues to inspire you at Dal?

People. Being an “off the charts” extrovert, I gain a lot of energy from interacting with others. I’ve met some of the greatest people in my life here at Dal. I firmly believe that we exist to have authentic relationships with others, and what keeps me going is working with people who are engaged, passionate and inspired by what they do.

Wouldn’t you rather inspire people to work with you rather than compel them to work for you? Either way, the job will get done, but one way has more meaning and adds value, ultimately leading to better results everyone can be proud of.

By Janice Godin
Dec. 2013

Danny Abriel is a photographer with Dalhousie’s Communications & Marketing department. Originally from Musquodoboit Valley, he moved to Halifax in the 80s to study at NSCAD, where an interest in photography was ignited. For Danny, photography seemed to be the perfect blend of artistry and practicality, which satisfied both his creative needs and his work ethic. He then obtained a Diploma in Photography from NSCC. His final co-op term led him to Dal… and he’s been here ever since (1989)!

Although photography has changed a lot in the past few decades with developments in technology, one thing has remained constant from his perspective: “it’s all about telling a visual story”.

Danny’s creativity is also expressed through some of his personal interests like painting ( and creative writing. He also enjoys spending time with friends and staying fit through various activities such as martial arts and outdoor sports. Anyone who knows Danny could attest to his wonderful sense of humour, which he brings to every occasion.


What is personal leadership?

Taking charge and making a commitment

Personal leadership is the desire of an individual to take charge of his or her own life. Those who practice personal leadership realize that leadership is not limited to a position or title, but is an outlook on life and their role in the world.  “We can all show leadership by how we go about our daily work. Individuals in any position can make a commitment to (Creating Healthy Organizations, Graham Lowe, 2007):

  • be guided by personal and organizational values,
  • develop relationships based on mutual trust and respect,
  • take initiative in their jobs,
  • be responsible for learning and for teaching others,
  • offer suggestions and ideas for how to do things better,
  • engage in open and honest communication,
  • support their co-workers or direct-reports, and
  • recognize others’ contributions.”

Do you work with someone who practices personal leadership? Let us know!