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CONFRONTING THE CRITICAL QUESTIONS FACING LEADERS TODAY

Uncertainties surrounding the pandemic have created uniquely challenging conditions for leaders. Massive disruptions are requiring them to summon all their skills in communicating and motivating in order to manage operations effectively.

After a long and successful career as a leader in the public service, Sylvie Levesque-Finn knows how important it is for leaders to be able to step back from a problem or issue, give themselves space and reflect on their world in a broader context.

“The way we are doing business now will be the way for the next while,” she told me recently.

“What matters is how leaders show up and continue to support employees during this time, how they adjust with customers and how they step up,” Sylvie says.

“Communication is a critical issue for leaders. The last few months have been particularly challenging given that most of the communication has been happening virtually, not just with employees but with customers and stakeholders. They still have to show up as being supportive, as a team member, and they must communicate effectively.”

Wealth of knowledge

Sylvie, a bilingual certified executive coach trained at Royal Roads University in British Columbia, has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in governance, leadership development, public policy, change management, human resources management, customer service and operations.

She brings a unique perspective to the roster of leadership coaches at Vision Coaching. Her long experience in the public service has instilled in her the kind of patience and listening skills that can only be honed through years of steering government bureaucracy.

‘I see my role as a thinking partner or a sounding board to help leaders reach clarity. I want to see them reach that ‘ah-ha!’ moment….’

A critical question now facing leaders is the re-opening and re-staffing of offices to meet operational requirements and whether some employees should continue to work from home.

It appears, she says, that social distancing will continue to be a reality for some time to come. For leaders, it’s an opportunity to rethink how service delivery may look like in the future.

The future office setting may be a hybrid of at-home and in-office work.

‘Thinking partner’

She has noticed that employers have been more accommodating with their employees. “There’s a lot of adjustment, compromising and flexibility,” she says.

As a coach, Sylvie sees herself as a “thinking partner” for leaders both in the public and private sectors.

“I see my role as a thinking partner or a sounding board to help leaders reach clarity,” she says. “I want to see them reach that ‘ah-ha!’ moment and help them grow and learn as leaders.

“I find leaders don’t have time to focus on themselves. Coaching allows that time, whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. It gives them the opportunity to focus on themselves. That’s often the last thing they do – they focus on everything else around them. So taking that time to think and to plan helps them become better leaders.”

Desire to help

Sylvie began her career in the New Brunswick public service in the 1980s as a social worker, an occupation that addressed her desire to help people.

She soon realized she wanted to be involved in decision-making and public policy development that could help people even more broadly. She obtained a Master’s degree in public administration, and she never looked back.

Sylvie rose through the ranks of the New Brunswick public service. She served as deputy minister of the department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, president of Service New Brunswick, deputy minister of the department of Local Government, deputy minister of Government Services and president of the New Brunswick Internal Services Agency – to name just a few of her senior posts.

I first had the opportunity to meet Sylvie while she was in government. Earnest and sincere, it was obvious to me then the care and interest she had in the people she worked with.

So I wasn’t surprised that after retiring from government she headed off to Royal Roads to obtain her training and credentials as a leadership coach.

I’m proud to call her a colleague.

Sylvie’s two watch words for leaders going forward: motivate and innovate.

“Regardless if you are in the private sector or in the public sector, the way programs, products and services are delivered have evolved in the last few months,” she says.

“People have become more comfortable doing business online. This provides an opportunity for organizations to innovate and make sure the right technology is in place to continue to effectively deliver services, keep customers happy and employees motivated.”

To learn more about Sylvie and how she can help you or your organization, visit the Vision Coaching website.

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