More than ever, employee teams consist of different generations with potentially wide-ranging values, expectations and beliefs. But Jean Polak, a Bracebridge lawyer, says instead of being a barrier, a diverse group provides more opportunities for an organization. Polak was speaking at the Gravenhurst Opera House Jan. 6 during a leadership forum, which is part of the Future Ready Leadership Program. Employees from the District of Muskoka, Town of Bracebridge and Town of Gravenhurst are participating in the program, which is run by Mohawk College Enterprise (MCE). Future Ready Leadership is a series of customized leadership training sessions held one day each month, over eight months. This program helps develop emerging leaders and provides critical thinking skills, valuable insight and behaviours that will equip, prepare and address organizational change management. This is MCE’s fourth leadership panel in this region, giving participants the opportunity to learn from existing leaders. Polak was joined on the leadership panel by Natalie Bubela, chief executive officer of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare; and Glen Davies, chief administrative officer of the Town of Gravenhurst. Polak practises law in Bracebridge, in the areas of civil and criminal litigation and wills and estates. Before her management career, Bubela was a clinical nurse specialist in oncology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and was on staff at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Nursing. Davies was previously city manager with the City of Regina, and was also a principal with the management consulting firm, TkMC. Attendees included Gravenhurst Mayor Paisley Donaldson and Deputy Mayor Jeff Watson, Gravenhurst District Councillors Sandy Cairns and Paul Kelly, councillors Terry Pilger and Randy Jorgenson.and Gravenhurst Fire Chief Larry Brassard. The event included a luncheon, as well as the panel, which addressed the topic of Emerging Trends in Leadership, including discussions on change management, leadership challenges and social media. As a leader, Davies says his main purpose is to help younger, developing staff to be the best they can be. Bubela agreed. “I very much enjoy developing other people,” she said. “I had a lot of people believe in me and give me opportunities and I want to give some of that back.” When discussing how to manage employees through change, Bubela says that it is not about giving people answers but helping them to devise the right questions and find the answers. Davies recommends creating a clear, shared vision and relying on your team, as you cannot achieve significant change alone. Asked whether leaders are born or made, all panelists agreed the elements that create a great leader can be nurtured. These include good communication, resiliency, authenticity, competency and courage. Bubela says great leadership is about helping others develop and grow. “You have to bring others into the decision-making process. Leaders don’t always have the answer,” she said. “It is a way of influencing people toward an end that adds value.” Mohawk College Enterprise prepares people and companies with the skills and expertise required to succeed in today’s fast-paced world. Through expert trainers, MCE provides training with the latest techniques and technology. Its Future Ready Leadership Program covers topics including the power of teams, coaching communication skills and managing change. For information, visit mcecor.com or call Dianne Jones at 416-988-2053.