How to be a better leader in 2023. Plus, setting boundaries in a demanding work environment

How to be a better leader in 2023. Plus, setting boundaries in a demanding work environment

Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. To subscribe, click here.

New books on leadership written by prominent women suggest that in times of change and crisis, skills like empathy and collaboration are key.piranka

In 2023, the continued impacts of hybrid work amid economic uncertainty and slowdowns in key sectors like tech have left business leaders navigating uncharted waters and seeking ways to thrive during an extraordinary time.

Read about three new books on leadership by prominent women that aim to help leaders meet the challenge.

In this brave new world, businesses need to demonstrate courage

“As 2022 draws to a close, we can look back on another year of far-reaching existential crises, from climate change to political instability, racial injustice to income inequity,” says Wanda Costen, dean of the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

“Historically, the Canadian view has been that these challenges are best solved by the government, but there’s growing expectation that business can, and should, bring to bear both human and financial resources to address the social issues in the communities in which they operate.

“Canadians now rank charities and businesses as equally responsible for solving societal problems, and, on average, suggest that 20 per cent of a company’s profits should be dedicated to solutions.

“When it comes to leaders, almost one-third of Canadians now strongly expect chief executive officers to take firm positions on important societal issues and see the CEO’s views as a proxy for the company itself.

Read the full article to find out why Dean Costen says business leaders need to “adapt or fail.”

How many of these interviewing mistakes do you make?

Do you ask compound questions in interviews? Do you interview in a team, all the relevant managers gathered together with the candidate? Do you set out at the start of the session the complete context for the job and what you are seeking? Do you favour that classic of behavioural interviewing, “Tell me about a time when …”

In each case, forensic interviewer Michael Reddington says you’re wrong. The Charlotte, N.C.,-based consultant has trained leaders of many organizations, including police departments and the military, in non-confrontational interviewing, showing how to gain information the other person is not inclined to share.

Given the importance of recruiting the right people – and the role interviewing plays in hiring – you might want to pay attention as he shreds some of our common practices.

Read the full article for tips on how to improve your interviewing game.

In case you missed it

Women are worried that hybrid work won’t last

In this latest stage of the pandemic, there is new tension between the goals of executives and managers and the desires of the people they employ.

Employers want their workers onsite so that they can keep tabs, ensure maximum productivity and make use of the office space they are paying to rent. But, as has become increasingly clear in sociological data, employees – particularly women – do not want to return to full-time work in person.

In the current labour deficit, employers must make concessions to working women if they want to retain this vital labour force. If they do not, says Pamela Jeffery, founder and board director of The Prosperity Project, women will look elsewhere for employment.

“If employers choose to deny women and men workplace flexibility, we believe that they will find it much more challenging to recruit and retain top talent,” Ms. Jeffery says.

Read the full article.

People undergoing fertility treatments need greater flexibility at work

Puja Malhotra wanted to be a mother and used science to help make it a reality. Like thousands of Canadians, she underwent fertility treatments and says it was so much easier to do while working from home during the pandemic.

“It’s so much more than just the appointments,” recalls Ms. Malhotra. “The injections have to be done at a certain time, within half an hour, and then the pills and some things are refrigerated and, maybe most importantly, it’s based on your cycle, it’s not based on when you’re available.”

The unpredictability of cycles, the stress of trying to meet appointments while not disclosing your private life at work, surreptitiously giving yourself injections in the work bathroom, hiding the labels of prescriptions that need refrigeration next to your workmate’s lunch – these were all part of the reality of fertility treatments in Canada. Then the global pandemic hit and something changed.

“What’s interesting is, through the pandemic, we’ve actually seen an increase in the number of fertility treatments that are happening,” says Carolynn Dubé, executive director of Fertility Matters Canada.

Read the full article.

Ask Women and Work

Question: My workplace is very intense. We are a small team in a large organization and we work long hours. We are on Slack at work and at home, and we often work in the evenings and on weekends. I love my job and have no plans to go elsewhere, but I’m finding the pace punishing. Is there a way to set boundaries with my employer without damaging my career?

We asked Susannah Margison, lawyer and founder of Margisons, a conflict strategy and consulting firm in Toronto, to tackle this one:

There is a way to effectively set boundaries with an employer without putting one’s career in jeopardy.

However, it takes some advanced preparation, particularly when an employee’s efforts to set the boundary risk upsetting a status quo or existing workflow (and thus might attract some pushback).

As part of your preparation, refresh your memory on the terms of your employment (check your employment contract) and read through your organization’s policies with respect to overtime and the right to disconnect. Understanding the respective legal obligations of you and your employer will be essential in this process.

If you are unsure about your rights, do not hesitate to ask an employment lawyer for some advice. Next, consider the boundary you would like to create and ensure that it will still enable you to meet the terms of your employment contract.

I often suggest that my clients consider their own reasons for the boundary and the courses of action available to them should the boundary not be accepted or respected. This enables my clients to feel more confident entering into boundary discussions, and to understand where they are asserting what is otherwise a legal right – versus asking their employer to provide them with an exception to their general expectations of staff.

When you engage in the initial boundary discussion with your employer, it is often helpful to articulate the joint benefits you hope the boundary will deliver to both you and your employer. For example, if you feel that the boundary will ensure that you can continue your high performance or will increase your longevity with the organization, informing your employer of that motivation is often helpful in securing their buy-in and respect for the boundary.

Finally, once you have set the boundary, have a plan for ensuring that people respect it. Think about how you will politely remind others of your boundary and, if necessary, rehearse it in advance with a trusted mentor, adviser or coach.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at [email protected].

How to be a better leader in 2023. Plus, setting boundaries in a demanding work environment Tausi Insider Team

Interested in more perspectives about women in the workplace? Find all stories on the The Globe Women’s Collective hub here, and subscribe to the new Women and Work newsletter here. Have feedback? E-mail us at [email protected].

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