Providing inspired leadership across the generations and during times of rapid change were two of the topics highlighted during a forum on Emerging Trends in Leadership hosted by the County of Oxford Thursday.
Elizabeth Carswell, senior director of human resources with London Hydro, said when it comes to leadership it is important to bring management teams together “to learn best practices and motivate them.”
Carswell was one of three panelists who took part in Oxford County’s Future Leadership Forum, launched in 2015 in partnership with Mohawk College Enterprise.
The program focuses on building and enhancing administrative leadership in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Carswell, the former Woodstock Hydro manager of internal services who now looks after the wellbeing and employment of 320 employees, said leaders are often not from the same generation as their employees.
“They need to understand the differences,” Carswell said. “More than ever leaders need to understand the people that report to them from a perspective of diversity and assist them with their needs and goals, and look at how they can help them succeed in the future.
“(The leaders) are the ones that need to be flexible. You can wish you can change them, but that might be wishful thinking.”
Fellow panelist Helen Noehammer, director of transportation and infrastructure planning with the City of Mississauga, explained that back when she started in the workforce almost 30 years ago, the scenario was much different.
“It wasn’t uncommon for someone to work at the same place their entire lives,” said. “We’re welcoming newer generations who are making decisions based on the quality of their career and life. They are much more mobile (in terms of employment.)”
Despite the challenges, Noehammer said leaders have to learn to appreciate the younger generations.
“We can learn from all of them,” she said. “The different strengths and interests they bring rounds out our corporation as well.”
Noehammer said another trend emerging within the leadership forum was the idea of managing through change, which is “our only constant.”
“We have to make sure we are constantly agile and adaptable,” she said. “Part of our responsibility is helping our teams through the changes.”