Oxford County Leadership Panel

Friday, January 22, 2016

Kate Graham remembers when the City of London made the news for its poor municipal employee attendance record. As the story spread, employee morale decreased and the workplace culture suffered. “The leader didn’t cast blame but connected with employees, talked about the difficulties of being a city employee and reminded them of why they got into a public service. It became an opportunity to unite people.” “When crisis happens, a great leader helps everyone refocus attention,” said Graham, director of Community & Economic Innovation, City of London. Graham was relaying the story during a panel on effective leadership earlier this month at the Oxford County council chambers. A partnership between Oxford County and Mohawk College Enterprise (MCE), the panel was part of the Future Ready Leadership program. Run by MCE, Future Ready Leadership is a series of customized leadership training sessions held one day each month, over eight months. Oxford County employees are participating in the program, which helps develop emerging leaders and provides; critical thinking skills, valuable insight and behaviours that will equip, prepare and address organizational change. Graham was joined on the panel by Chris Murray, city manager, City of Hamilton; Karen Sample, founder and owner, 31st Line Strategic Communications; and Ian Stevens, president and CEO, Execulink Telecom, a leading provider of data, internet, television and advanced voice services. Stevens told the audience he believes there are five cornerstones of leadership: curiosity, discipline, emotional intelligence, empathy and the ability to admit when you’re wrong and ask for help. “If you have some of them, they can give you a strong foundation to build the others,” he said. Sample gave Future Ready participants advice on how to be a successful leader, “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Have a vision and share it. That’s what inspires people to follow you. Trust your team and empower them. Listen and learn from everyone. Be generous with praise.” When asked if they were worried that providing leadership training could backfire by having employees leave for a competitor, Graham said, “I want my team to develop. If I lose a team member to a competitor, shame on me, I haven’t given them the right opportunities.” Murray agreed, “There is a fair bit of mobility and competition. I think it’s the environment you create. If you invest in people, then you will be considered a good place to work.” 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 contact Sue Buckley at 226-387-1985 or sbuckley@mcecor.com.