Leading an organization—whether it’s in the public, private, or nonprofit sector—is far more complicated nowadays than it was in the past, according to Vancouver management consultant Suzanne Hawkes.
In a phone interview with the Straight, she cited a variety of factors, including the speed of change, global interconnectedness, and rapidly evolving social, cultural, and intergenerational norms.
“All of these are vastly different than even what we saw 10 or 15 years ago,” Hawkes stated.
The good news, according to Hawkes, is that there are teachable skills to help managers cope with all of this.
She’s part of a team of trainers and organizational experts who have packaged them into a new, intensive part-time SFU Continuing Studies program that leads to an executive-leadership certificate.
Beginning in September, it will include five modules over a nine-month period.
Two of the modules focus on building personal foundations for successful leadership and leading collaborative teams for high impact. Others zero in on creating organizational coherence and catalyzing action in complex systems.
To obtain an executive-leadership certificate, students will have to attend four weekend retreats at SFU’s Vancouver campus.
“They’ll also get coaching,” Hawkes said. “They’ll work on their own impact project, and they’ll have a lot of support to develop an individual leadership plan tailored for their ongoing development after.”
Hawkes is the sole Canadian trainer at the U.S.–based Rockwood Leadership Institute and has a great deal of experience helping organizations understand how to manage diverse workforces.
Other instructors in the program are strategic-planning expert and scholar Aftab Erfan, trainer and coach Susan Petrina, organizational consultant and coach Yoni Gordis, and curriculum-development specialist Tricia Bowler.
“I’m really deeply excited about this program and how expansive their vision was around this,” Hawkes said. “I can’t wait to get our first cohort. I think this is going to be a big milestone in the leadership field.”
It's a matter of the mind
Hawkes noted that the program will emphasize six mindsets that managers need to cultivate to be successful nowadays.
The “adaptive” mindset makes one more agile and able to respond to changing conditions.
A “developmental” mindset encourages constant learning of new skills and attitudes.
The “collaborative” mindset helps leaders manage change across organizations.
Then there’s the “equity” mindset, which involves an awareness of power and rank within organizations.
The fifth mindset is an appreciation for whole systems, enabling a leader to scan the landscape for dynamic changes that can affect the organization.
Finally, there’s the “catalytic” mindset, which transforms ideas into action.
On March 30, the public can learn more about the program at an event called Leadership in Complex Systems: New Models for a Changing World, which will be hosted by SFU Continuing Studies.
It will take place at the BMO Theatre Centre (203–162 West 1st Avenue), with Harvard law school faculty member and author Sheila Heen as the keynote speaker. Heen is coauthor of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (even when it is off-base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood). There will also be e-info sessions about the executive-leadership certificate program on April 19, June 15, and July 25.
For more information on e-info sessions about the program, go here.