Randstad Canada HR Blog

The Engineering Demand in Edmonton, July-September 2015

Posted by Alex Schmaltz on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 @ 02:00 PM

Do you know where to find the talent that will drive your business and meet your company objectives?

Randstad Canada's National Demand Guide shows you where the greatest supply of skilled and experienced engineers and technology experts are in highest demand and where there is a greater supply of their skills and expertise. Here is a snapshot of the engineering demand in Edmonton from July to September 2015.

If you are planning to grow your team, this market insight will provide you with a good understanding of the markets across Canada. Find out more about what talent is hot, who’s hiring and where the most opportunities are.

Download the National Demand Guide

Tags: Engineering

Ask Our Leaders: Sandra Pickering, Vice President, Business Development, Randstad Sourceright

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 @ 01:30 PM


Through our Women Shaping Business program, we want to provide you with valuable insights that you can use to assess the leadership of women in your organization, evaluate your own professional career growth plan, and inspire you to reach out, connect and keep the conversation going.

With this in mind, Randstad Canada’s Leadership team invites you to submit a burning question you have on career development, mentorship, leadership skills, or any other topic around women in business. Submit your question using the form here and a member of our Ask Our Leaders panel will provide insightful advice to help you manage your career.

This week’s featured Randstad Leader is Sandra Pickering, Vice President, Business Development, Randstad Sourceright

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Live Leadership - define what leadership means personally to you, to your organization and to your team.  In this way you have a true measure of what successful leadership looks like for all key stakeholders.  It becomes a living, tangible personality trait, culture, feeling, driver and style that inspires progress, growth, innovation and transformation. 

Be open to collaboration - a true leader is only as strong as the team they are able to build, guide, inspire and surround themselves with.

Be transparent - be open to feedback, challenges and uncertainty; change management at any level is large element to work through.

Encourage lots of communication - learn what forms of communication drives others to success - this includes understanding your new executive colleagues, your new team, the Board, potential new team members/candidates, and your clients/suppliers/external buyers.

Network outside your organization - share and exchange ideas with your network of professionals; ideas, thought leadership, best practices that resonate with you.

What are the best resources that you would recommend to someone looking to gain insights into becoming a better leader?

Take a broad view of what leadership means today; take into account intellectual leadership, emotional leadership, business leadership and spiritual leadership.  Read about great leaders in the globe, in whatever form of career, path or journey they are on.  Engage a diverse network, and take the best from each.  Lessons can be gained and transferred from a variety of sources.

What are the top three challenges that leaders are facing today?

1. The volatility and pace with which we work; so the ability to stay leading edge and at the forefront in a fast moving business environment is a challenge.

2. The global economy; and changing competitive landscape; meaning we need to be more open than ever to opportunities, possibilities, and innovation.

3. Consumer and employee expectations continue to rise; and that translates to increased expectations and increased governance and accountability being put upon our leaders; their ability to manage the pressure and challenges with diplomacy, integrity and collaboration is increasingly important.


Have a question for our leaders? Submit it now!


About our leader:

Sandra Pickering joined Randstad Sourceright in November of 2014 as Vice President Business Development. As Ambassador of the RSR brand, she is responsible for cultivating key strategic relationships and for driving growth within the Recruitment Processing Outsourcing area.

Sandra has over 23 years of strategic client development and sales leadership in the TM and HR Solutions industry.   Most recently she held the role of Director Client Strategic Partnerships with Futurestep Korn Ferry; As part of the Global Sales team, C-Level relationships and engagements were developed across multiple industries, including Financial, Consumer Packaged Goods, Industrial, Health Sciences and Information Technology. 

Her passion for the Talent Management industry started early in her career while working with Kelly Services; then during her promotion through a variety of Sales Leadership and Regional Management roles at Adecco (formerly Olsten).  As VP Ontario Operations and Head of the Office of Strategic Management for IS2 Workforce Solutions, Sandra led the growth of this value-based niche provider of industrial and skilled trades talent into Eastern Canada.  As President of her own Consulting practice, she worked with many organizations on sales strategy, market analysis, team attraction and development. 

Sandra holds a Bachelor of Science Honors degree with Majors in Psychology and Criminology from the University of Toronto.

Tags: Women Shaping Business

New study from Randstad Canada:  Canadian women still held back as leaders in the workplace

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

Launched in 2012, Randstad Canada’s Women Shaping Business program aims to explore the challenges and opportunities for today’s Canadian women in the workplace. A key element of the program is a nationwide survey conducted annually by Randstad Canada in collaboration with Ipsos Reid, asking Canadian women how they feel the country has progressed toward more equal workplaces. This year, the survey was conducted between August 17 and 21, 2015. A sample of 1,005 working women (including 303 managers and executives) were interviewed online.

Here are the 2015 survey highlights: 




Go to www.womenshapingbusiness.ca to download the study! 

Tags: Leadership & Ethics

Managers, it is up to you to identify the future leaders in your organizations

Posted by Alex Schmaltz on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

As more and more Baby Boomers retire, Canadian companies are looking to the next generations to fill these roles. Unfortunately, according to 2014 Women Shaping Business: Challenges and Opportunities, 48% of women do not aspire to advance to senior or executive-level positions. So how do we get more women to step up and take on these leadership positions? It comes down to their managers. Here are some ways that managers can identify future leaders and empower them to take that next step.

1. Find out if she wants to lead
“You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless (s)he is willing to climb.” - Andrew Carnegie
It is left to be said why these women do not want to move up the corporate ladder, but it is important to remember that not everyone is looking to advance to a more senior level, regardless of how much potential they may have. Find out who on your team is looking to advance and help them identify where they want to go based on their skills and talent. This may not be as easy as asking though, as many women suffer from Imposter Syndrome (link) and may not have the confidence to identify themselves as future leaders. Take the time to figure out if they have it in them to lead. Does she have a proven track record of exceeding your expectations? Does she take ownership of the projects you give her? Does she have a positive attitude that inspires others? Consider the characteristics you think it takes to succeed in your organization and see if she possesses them.

2. Motivate and encourage her
“Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”– Lee Iacocca
If she is looking to take on leadership role, it is important to help her find her footing. Encourage her to enroll in courses, attend seminars and to shadow other employees to gain more knowledge and hone her skills. Showing her how important is it to develop her skills will show her that you and your organization are invested in her career development. Employees want to stay and work hard for companies that care about their professional growth, so if you invest in her she will invest in your company.

3. Teach her how to lead
"The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born." - Warren Bennis

Being an effective leader isn’t something that you are born with it, it is a skill that needs to be developed. Leadership is a skill that can be displayed in many ways, such as taking initiative, working hard and being a team player. Help her develop this skill by holding her accountable, giving her more responsibility and by pushing her to work with as many people as possible. This will also help her to grow her network and show others in your organization what a great catch she is.

4. Lean in for her
“It’s time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table.” – Sheryl Sandberg
People think of ‘Leaning In’ and automatically think of how this method benefits them, but if we want to encourage young women to go after senior level positions we need to show them it is attainable and that we support them. She will want to be in your shoes one day, so help her understand how you got there. Show her the big picture and she will be willing to do the grunt work to accomplish her goal.

Want more insights on becoming a great leader or download a copy of our Women Shaping Business Study 2015? Go to http://www.womenshapingbusiness.ca

Join the Women Shaping Business Linkedin Group, and keep the conversation going all year around!

Follow us on Twitter @RandstadCanada with hashtags #womenshapingbiz and #mywfactor


Tags: Women Shaping Business, Leadership & Ethics

Women in STEM and the language of gender

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

 Words have power. Don’t believe it? Ask Dr. Tim Hunt, a.k.a Sir Richard Timothy Hunt, scientist and Nobel prize winner. In June 2015, while addressing the World Conference of Science Journalists in Korea, Dr. Hunt made a poor stab at humour, to the horror of women scientists and the Royal Society, which immediately distanced itself from Dr. Hunt and his comments. The effects of Dr. Hunt’s faux pas are still reverberating among thinking people in and out of the science community.

Identifying himself – tongue in cheek, apparently - as a “chauvinist monster”, Dr. Hunt essentially said that science needs women but that girls in the lab create all kinds of problems and distraction for serious scientists. The backlash was immediate: Dr. Hunt apologized profusely and resigned from a number of prominent positions he held in the U.K., in spite of the support he found around the globe. It seems – to his supporters anyway – that this bespeckled, slightly disheveled scientist meant no harm but simply needs to get out of the lab more.

It’s pretty clear that Dr. Hunt’s comments – as inappropriate as they were – bore no malice. Whether or not he should be skewered for them is for better minds to decide. The reality is that Dr. Hunt’s illustrious history backs up his claim that he is indeed a supporter of good science, regardless of, if not blind to gender.

The other reality around his remarks is that gender bias within science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is alive, well, systemic and inherent. If you doubt that, substitute Dr. Hunt’s comments about ‘girls’ for any term that denotes race or sexual preference, and see how far you get. The proof is that, somewhere in Dr. Hunt’s deeply intelligent and highly educated mind, it’s ok to make remarks like his, remarks that his peers – mostly male - might find amusing and relatable.

What’s not amusing is that, while more young women are entering STEM programs, fewer of them are hired or remain in these careers; those that do, earn less and advance slower than their male counterparts, if at all. They’re often given less important, less challenging, more menial work. Women’s organizations are working hard to encourage young women to consider a career in STEM fields, and then to find ways to keep them at the same time that the existing assumption is that women will drop out of science to have families. For some reason, it’s thought that women smart enough to become engineers and mathematicians can’t find a way to juggle their work and home lives. It’s not their inability to find work/life balance that’s the challenge; it’s the bias that the ability to bear children and work successfully as an engineer are mutually exclusive.

In an article for MacLean’s Magazine (‘Why there are still far too few women in STEM’, April 2015), writer Zane Schwartz reported that ‘women are still not recognized, rewarded, hired and promoted at the same rates as men.’ Focusing on attracting more young women to STEM programs is only part of how we increase their presence in these fields; the other part is keeping them. That will happen when we change how we talk about, and to them. When we stop calling them ‘girls’. We have to change the language before we can alter the perception. It’s what TV psychologists call ‘behaving your way to success’.  

We need a new language, or at least to adopt the language used by corporate HR and hiring managers in other sectors who have had to evolve their hiring practices to include diversity in all its forms and to – on the surface anyway – hire the best person for the job. Period.

In STEM, women need to be challenged, praised, critiqued, championed, invited to give keynote addresses, offered tenure, advanced in their careers, mentored and invited to be mentees. They need to enjoy coffee, not fetch it for everyone else. They need to be called something other than, and thought of more than ‘girls’.  How about colleague?


Want more insights on becoming a great leader or download a copy of our Women Shaping Business Study 2015? Go to http://www.womenshapingbusiness.ca

Join the Women Shaping Business Linkedin Group, and keep the conversation going all year around!

Follow us on Twitter @RandstadCanada with hashtags #womenshapingbiz and #mywfactor




Tags: Women Shaping Business, Leadership & Ethics

Influence: the magnet that draws others to you

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

 You know people of influence. They’re not necessarily the tallest, best-dressed people in the room but they definitely have something. Their carriage says confidence and composure. People watch them. When they speak, others listen. Theirs is a sphere of influence that impacts decision-making at all levels levels, changes company direction or keeps it solidly on track while all around, markets fluctuate wildly. According to Forbes, they change minds, shape opinions and inspire others to act[1]. People follow them through the storm. That’s influence.

That’s power.

These are people who exert control before they’ve uttered a word. They’re highly regarded, the people others want to hear from and follow willingly because they feel compelled to do so. While some people are born with the ability to attract others to them, the rest of us can learn the skills required to not only attract others, but keep them engaged and willing to follow our lead and heed our direction. How long and successfully we exert influence on others depends on our history of integrity, reliability, agility, flexibility, thoughtful decision-making and our rate of past success.

How to become a person – or chicken - of influence

There’s a nursery tale in which a chicken, Henny Penny, is struck on the head by a falling acorn and decides that the sky is falling and she must run and tell the king. Along the way, Henny Penny meets a variety of animals who decide to accompany her until they meet up with a fox, who is not what he claims to be. The end of the story has some unfortunate outcomes. But the point of the story, in terms of creating influence, is that Henny Penny is able to easily convince others that the sky is indeed falling and they, in turn, are compelled to follow her.

Henny Penny is hardly an intellectual giant. She engages the others by sheer force of will, not by invitation to join her but by her certain conviction that she’s right about the sky falling and that, whether they follow her or not, hers is the only logical solution. That’s influence, barnyard style. Creating a sphere of influence at which we are the center in the business world is a little more complex.

Here are some tips that will start you thinking about being the kind of influential person you yourself would follow.

 Carry yourself with confidence. Even if at first you have to fake it to make it, stand tall. Put your shoulders back, raise your head, make eye contact. Look like you’re confident. You’re communicating non-verbally about who you are and how you want others to regard you. Wear clothes appropriate to your workplace but bump them up a notch. Wear things you’re comfortable in, but not too comfortable. Sometimes a structured suit jacket, pumps or a tie remind you to stand tall and carry yourself accordingly.

Smile. Be personable, whatever that means for you, as long as you can do it honestly and sincerely. People can spot a fake a mile away. If a pleasant countenance isn’t your thing, do it anyway. You’re building others’ confidence in you and that won’t happen if you have a face like a storm cloud.

Listen.  Real power isn’t about pounding the desk to make a point or get others’ attention. Real influence is quiet, almost internal. It’s a surety that you’re hearing others, considering options, coming to wise conclusions. You can agree to disagree in a way that leaves others intact. Like being a great leader, a person of influence is inclusive of others’ opinions and suggestions even though the final decision rests with them and they’re going to make it.

Practice humility. People of real influence and authority don’t have to blow their own horns. Others do that for them. They’re not aggressive because they have an air of quiet, certain confidence. They don’t have to yell to be heard. A repetitive litany of all your successes to whoever you can corner says you’re insecure and in need of constant positive reinforcement. Not influential in the right way.

Build trust. This comes back to being the leader you yourself would follow. You want to be the kind of person you hold in high regard. Integrity, consistent performance, hard work, a lack of arrogance, flexibility, inclusivity, openness – whatever qualities you admire in people who you respect and who influence you are the ones you should emulate.

There’s no magic or mystery to becoming a person of influence. It’s based on some tweaking of the skills and traits you already have, along with careful, thoughtful observance and practice. Being a person of influence carries responsibility because people who follow you will do so based less on an intellectual decision and more on an emotional response. Respect them, respect yourself and you’ll soon find you’re drawing people to you, people who you can influence in positive ways. And that’s where power – the kind of power that counts – lies.

[1] Five steps to increase your influence, Susan Tardanico, Forbes.com, Dec. 21, 2011


Want more insights on becoming a great leader or download a copy of our Women Shaping Business Study 2015? Go to http://www.womenshapingbusiness.ca

Join the Women Shaping Business Linkedin Group, and keep the conversation going all year around!

Follow us on Twitter @RandstadCanada with hashtags #womenshapingbiz and #mywfactor





Tags: Women Shaping Business, Leadership & Ethics

Introverts, extroverts and everyone in between: how to connect in the workplace

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

 Psychologists have long debated the ‘nature versus nurture’ argument  – the struggle between what we’re born with and what we learn – in making sense of how humans behave in the world.  

Our inherent features and qualities, including our personalities, come into the world with us, while our behavior – how we act and react – is shaped by our personal experiences.

We are who we are – introvert or extrovert. It’s a wide spectrum, bookended by extremes with most of us falling somewhere in the middle. Those of us with both tendencies are called ambiverts. While our preferences and predispositions are hard wired, understanding ourselves and others goes a long way to helping us operate at our best and ensuring optimal production in the workplace.

We’ve talked a lot about generational stereotypes and biases in the workplace, and come up with ways we can undo these preconceived notions to everyone’s benefit. Biases and stereotypes also exist around personality traits, specifically introvert and extrovert personalities.

The effects of those biases are no less detrimental to a highly functioning team, and its subsequent productivity and engagement than those of ageism or sexism. That’s because anything that negatively affects an employee’s sense of self in relation to the world around him/her – in this case, the workplace – negatively affects the organization itself. What’s inherent in an individual is ultimately inherent in the organization, because the organization functions only as well as its employees.

Introvert vs Extrovert

The conflict between these two personality traits is an unfortunate construct that comes from a lack of understanding of how each operates ideally. We judge the manifestation, often missing the real value each brings to the table. That’s because we live in a culture where people who speak up and first, are more expressive and seen as ‘people’ people are valued and highly regarded in the workplace, while quiet, introspective employees are often overlooked. Employers who don’t learn how to value the personalities of their introverted employees miss out on the contributions this other half of the working population brings to the table.

The Difference

Introverts and extroverts are different by virtue of what energizes them. Extroverts feed off other people, social situations, lots of stimulation and conversation. Introverts are energized by quiet time alone to think and recharge, small groups of people, less talk and more face-to-face communication. Polar opposites that make up a community of workers.


Extroverts process quickly (if not always completely) before dashing off to the next idea, meeting or group activity. They’re considered natural leaders because they’re gregarious and are generally good public speakers. Their leadership style tends to be positive because they like people. They pick up and feed off the energy in the room and respond to it.  Generally, they’re comfortable communicating.

Well known extroverts include Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali and Winston Churchill.


You won’t get a quick response from an introvert, and you don’t want one. That’s because while this person needs time to process, he/she is really multi-tasking – processing and assessing thoroughly while formulating a well thought out, analytical response that often contains a plan. Introverts are great listeners and keen observers, which compliments their leadership style. They value the opinions of others (even if it’s because they’re reticent to share their own), prefer one-to-one communication and, because they’re analytical, they’re well positioned to anticipate problems and come up with solutions. What we’re saying here is that introverts are great leaders as long as their style is valued and understood.

Well known introverts include Ghandi, Hilary Clinton (yes, she is), Bill Gates and Mother Theresa.


This is the rest of us who fall somewhere towards the middle of the spectrum. That is, we share traits common to both categories. While our true natures are what they are, we can bring ourselves more easily and readily towards the opposite personality type and function well within it when required to do so.

Working with an extrovert?

You want to appreciate and respect their independence, offer opinions and let them talk things out. Often, extroverts sound like they’re rambling when really, that’s how they formulate and clarify ideas. These people function best in open workspaces where they can be in the company of colleagues and hold – or run – frequent meetings.  Extroverts are motivated by public praise and rewards for a job well done.

Working with an introvert?

Respect their need for privacy and down time. Don’t assume that someone eating lunch alone is shy, lonely or antisocial. They’re probably recharging. Suggest one-on-one, or small group meetings instead of large, back-to-back meetings. Don’t single them out, interrupt, publicly criticize or push them into situations that make them uncomfortable. Give them time to think without demanding an instant response. Introverts appreciate advanced notice - they excel when they have time to prepare or learn new skills at their own speed.

And in conclusion…

If you’re an employer, you want to get to know your employees and how they function so your management style is inclusive, not restrictive, and allows everyone to contribute. Employees would do well to get a better understanding of their own personality traits so they can function alongside and better relate to coworkers.

Remember, we all want the same things from our working lives – we just go about achieving them differently. Good news is we humans are nothing if not able to adapt.


Want more insights on becoming a great leader or download a copy of our Women Shaping Business Study 2015? Go to http://www.womenshapingbusiness.ca

Join the Women Shaping Business Linkedin Group, and keep the conversation going all year around!

Follow us on Twitter @RandstadCanada with hashtags #womenshapingbiz and #mywfactor


Tags: Women Shaping Business, Leadership & Ethics, work styles

Becoming a leader: a conversation with Shoana Prasad

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

Shoana Prasad, executive coach and founder of Glenwood Consulting Group Inc., brings over 15 years of executive development training to her client portfolio. She offers communications training, coaching and executive branding work. Her clients include financial institutions, consumer products, pharmaceutical and healthcare, as well as media and technology. Outside the corporate space, Shoana is a regular speaker at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto and the McGill Business School in Montreal. In addition, Shoana leads programs in personal branding for Women of Influence Inc. and has prepared speakers for Toronto’s first-ever Women’s TEDx. 

 What were the milestones or “firsts” in your development as a leader?

Well, I would say I am still developing, and that will continue but…..

That said, being a “self expert” was number one. I know myself very well. This allows me to make clear, fast and efficient decisions, which is important in my work with people who are generally very busy. Any and all of my decisions are made through a series of filters including, “Is this my expertise?;” Will the client and audience be better off having worked with me?” “Does it strengthen my brand?”  So knowing myself was one of the first real milestones.

Knowing my niche skill has also been key. Once you identify that one thing you can do better than anyone else, you can start to build your brand around that unique ability.

Finally, know when to stop and listen. I think when we’re younger we have the insatiable hunger to provide evidence of everything we know. There is such strength, comfort and wisdom in silence.

What are the unique characteristics of female leaders?

I think the unique characteristics of a great leader is to lead from where you’re at. Whether you are considered a leader from your internal HR’s perspective or not, I think being pronounced a leader doesn’t necessarily make you one. There are leaders at all levels. Those that listen, ask insightful questions, play “devil’s advocate” and offer counsel when necessary. I very much admire those leaders who can be strong yet humble; smart but approachable.

Other more tangible skills include, business acumen, impeccable communications skills, ability to make tough decisions, managing constant and incessant change, investing in human capital in time (mentorship) and money (personal development funds.)


How do you develop your leadership skills?  How do you assess yourself?

I develop my own skills everyday in the boardroom and at the podium. I am client-facing everyday with people who have big jobs and big pressures. I am very sensitive to the stress our leaders feel to perform, grow, anticipate and implement change, and build and retain people.

I listen; I ask open-ended questions with sincere curiosity.

I assess myself in what others say about me. Open, honest feedback is a bitter pill, but a necessary one. If you don’t know how you’re coming across with others, you’re missing key opportunities to develop those necessary leadership skills.

So in general, if colleagues and clients are happy, I’m happy.


What is the impostor syndrome and how do you overcome it? 

The imposter syndrome is that moment we have all felt when we think someone is going to “find out I know nothing!”

I overcome it by embracing it. Trends, patterns, personalities and consumer needs are forever evolving. If you consider yourself on the cusp of growth and innovation, there will most certainly be a moment of “I have no idea what I’m doing.” Embrace it and ask questions to lead you to what you do know. Question your thoughts. I think the imposter syndrome is a rite of passage for humble yet confident leaders.

It’s a dangerous place to be when you think you know everything.   


Want more insights on becoming a great leader or download a copy of our Women Shaping Business Study 2015? Go to http://www.womenshapingbusiness.ca

Join the Women Shaping Business Linkedin Group, and keep the conversation going all year around!

Follow us on Twitter @RandstadCanada with hashtags #womenshapingbiz and #mywfactor




















Why is personal branding important today and how do you develop a compelling personal brand?


The market place is noisy. Everyone, product, service is sticking its hand up saying “look at me, look at me!” It’s hard to cut through that.


A compelling personal brand is a win-win all around. For the individual, it’s a clear path of discovery of what you’re true value proposition is. Again, what do you do the best over anyone else? It’s helps any executive at any level navigate their career based on, what they love to do, are good at, and thus can offer the best value or serve.


For a company, having employees who have invested time into their personal brand are generally people who have clarity on what makes them happy and what drives them. That means, happy, focused people. More and more, companies are built based on culture and values. Employees are not only employees; they are brand ambassadors for the company.


This also means that the right people are in the right jobs. If your employees know themselves; are “self-experts” then you have a team that is driven by what is important to them individually.


The process of developing your brand is an evolution. There are so many resources that can step you through how to start thinking about how to build your brand, but the first place is just to assess where you’re at now. What is your current brand? In other words, “What do people say about you – good and bad – after you’ve left the room?”  This is essentially your current brand.


The second step is ask “What do you want people to say?”


The gap in-between is where the work is.


Tags: Women Shaping Business, Leadership & Ethics

You have what it takes to lead (you just don’t know it yet)

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

 Great leaders are born. Or are they? If that’s so, it means that half the population – the female gender half – is particularly challenged to achieve leadership status and be accepted as leaders. Are they really not born leaders or we the problem? Maybe it’s time to rethink what leadership is and the qualities required to be a great leader. Maybe perception is the problem. That, and bias and resistance to change.

Think about it. Think about the kind of leader you’d be inspired to follow. You may already be that person. If not, becoming that person is within your grasp.

While you don’t need all the traits identified as leadership qualities, you’d be surprised at how many you already have and how, with a little tweaking and a shift in how you think about them, they can propel you forward and upward. In other words, you can develop the skills to become a great leader and change a few minds in the process.


You can lead if you are:

Intelligent:  You’re smart. Period. And by the way, there are different types of intelligence and each one brings value.

Capable: You have marketable, transferable skills even if you need help identifying them. You wouldn’t be employed for long if you weren’t capable.

Understanding: Great leaders are sensitive to the people in their teams. It makes them want to help others to achieve their goals and others respond to them.

Decisive: You can make decisions, even the hard ones. You do it everyday. Nothing wishy-washy about you even if you have to fake it to make it. You get the job done.

Open:  You listen when people talk. You create an atmosphere where lines of communication are open. That’s a safe environment. You help people reach their potential, which already makes you a great leader.

Emotional: Rather than derision, the ability to know yourself emotionally and be able to connect with others in an emotional way is a skill to be celebrated. It gives you the edge when it comes to reading people successfully.

Honest: Your honesty goes a long way to building relationships. Relationships are important to you. That’s why you’re a great team builder. People know you’re a person of integrity. That’s inspiring.

Creative: Goes hand in hand with curiosity. Don’t worry if you think you don’t have a ‘head for business’. Creative people make great leaders because they’re flexible and adaptable. They think outside the box – a really powerful tool for solving problems and developing strategies. They know there’s more than one way to get there from here.

Conscientious: Meticulous detail person? As a leader, you can provide thoughtful, impactful feedback and direction to your team.  Things don’t get lost in the process when you’re in charge.

So now that you know you have what it takes to lead, how can you develop the skills you need to lead?

See yourself as a leader. You can’t expect others to see you in a leadership role if you don’t see it first. Find women in leadership roles and invite them to mentor you. Attend presentations and seminars where women are keynote speakers. Develop a network that includes successful women leaders. Act like a leader.

Develop confidence. Read, take a class, find a counselor, offer to lead or present seminars, take on smaller projects and form a team to achieve results. You’ll gain confidence with each success and learn from your mistakes. You’re building an arsenal of skills – mistakes are a big part of that.

Assess your skill set and update/refresh where necessary. Train, attend seminars, and fill your education gaps. That’s something you should be doing on an ongoing basis.

Define your style. Women are often caught between a rock and a hard place. They’re advised to assert themselves and called aggressive when they do. When they speak up, they’re considered pushy and when they’re quiet, they’re often overlooked. By identifying who you are and how you operate best, you prevent others from defining you.

Start early. Be the mentor you’d like to have. Get involved in educational institutions, programs and organizations you can mentor young girls in the skills they need to become leaders down the road.

You have to empower yourself before you empower others. That’s difficult in a society where you’re that half the population that’s underrepresented, and in a culture that undervalues your contributions and undermines your qualities as leadership material. But it’s not all negative. Things – and attitudes – are changing, perhaps with the speed of glaciers, but changing nonetheless. The more women seek, ask for and take on leadership roles, the more ‘naturalized’ the whole process will become. Think about that.


Want more insights on becoming a great leader or download a copy of our Women Shaping Business Study 2015? Go to http://www.womenshapingbusiness.ca

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Tags: Women Shaping Business, Leadership & Ethics, women in leadership

Caught in the loop: mentorship vs sponsorship

Posted by Marie-Noelle Morency on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

 We’ve been talking a lot about the qualities and skills women have and can develop to rise to the top of their professions. We know that more women are needed in positions of power for organizations and the country as a whole to remain innovative and competitive. So why are we still having the conversation? Why do so many companies and organizations remain flummoxed by the lack of women leaders when, within those organizations, more efforts are being made to identify female talent and potential and mentor it to success? Is that even possible?

Maybe it’s time to introduce the concepts of mentorship and sponsorship in relation to how we talk about women in the workplace to the equation. Is there something being communicated non-verbally in their differences and definitions? It’s a critical difference.

Mentors advise. They’re positioned at different levels throughout an organization where they coach and provide valuable career advice. They often set tasks and make suggestions designed to help you raise your profile. They’re a valuable sounding board against which you can figure out the details of who you are and who you want to be in the business world. Sponsorship, by its nature, is active. Sponsors are usually high up in the hierarchy where they literally promote your cause. They use their influence to help you get a foot in the door and advance your career in concrete, objective ways. In some companies, like IBM Europe, sponsors whose protégées fail to be promoted are held accountable for the failure.[1] Even without this dramatic shift in attitude and perception, there’s an ownership and accountability in sponsorship that is absent from mentorship.

Each is supportive and valuable in its own way. The problem arises when you get caught in a loop of mentorship, unable to move beyond its philosophical, theoretical approach into the doing that is at the heart of sponsorship.  An article in the Harvard Business Review[2] defines sponsorship as the next logical step after mentorship. Yet that next step remains elusive to many women. Research by the article’s interviewee and her co-writer peers suggests that “high-potential women are overmentored and undersponsored relative to their male peers – and that they are not advancing in their organizations.”[3]

The writers are basing their research on survey results that showed distinctive and different patterns in how both genders advance – or don’t – in the workplace. They suggest the same biases that affect how we think of and talk about women in the workplace  - the unconscious (and often not so unconscious) attitudes that rebuke women for the same behaviours that are championed in men - are behind their lack of promotion.

Indeed, a study launched by economist and thought leader Sylvia Ann Hewlett[4] in which 12,000 white collar men and women were followed for two years clearly showed that, among other things, the number of raise and increased job responsibility requests rose significantly for both genders, albeit consistently higher for men than women, when they were supported and backed by a sponsor. More men than women were sponsored, as opposed to mentored, to success.

So what’s a woman to do?

  • Take guidance from your mentor with an eye to moving forward with a sponsor.

  • Be clear about what you need from the sponsorship relationship and communicate it clearly.

  • Look for someone who is well positioned, well connected and willing to promote you as his or her protégée. Go where the influential people are in your organization and outside of it. You don’t need to find someone who shares the same personality traits as you. As in relationships, sometimes opposites attract and you can benefit from exposure to other ways of being. It’s not so important if their approach or work ethic compliments yours - it’s their connections and position you want working for you. That said, integrity isn’t something you want to negotiate.

  • Under the right circumstances, ask your mentor to sponsor you.  You’ll have already established a relationship of trust and ideally a comfort level that will contribute to your confidence and self-assurance in putting yourself out there.

  • Work hard, produce results and make sure your sponsor’s trust and confidence in you is rewarded. Their career and reputation, and your future, are on the line.


What’s a business community to do?

The dichotomy between the practices of mentorship and sponsorship is a manifestation, a symptom of workplace gender inequity. Could the terminology itself be part of the cause? While many companies and industries are confronting the lack of women in leadership roles head on, making appropriate changes that support working women, more must be done. In fact, a paradigm shift needs to take place that addresses long held attitudes and biases – at the core of gender inequality - that lock women into the mentorship loop and keep them from advancing.

In an article in the September 24th issue of the Toronto Star, writer David Olive addressed Canada’s continued complacent regard for “what are still quaintly called ‘women’s issues.’”[5] While no one is making light of the strides women have made in this country, the business world still has a long way to go before it puts its money where its women employees are. More women than men graduate from post-secondary institutions, which means, based on numbers and percentages, more women than men should be employed. This rate of employment and employability is not reflected by the levels within organizations that women are hired into, nor their promotion within an organization. According to Olive’s research, “In 2015, Canadian women are paid about $8,000 less per year than men for work of equivalent responsibility.”  As well, they’re promoted less into positions of authority and decision making.

Shifting the paradigm feels a lot like moving a glacier. Let’s start by no longer referring to them as ‘women’s issues’; let’s call them ‘business’s issues’ or ‘Canada’s issues’. Let’s make the lines between mentorship and sponsorship more fluid and evolutionary. We can’t move forward as an industrialized, advanced nation if all us can’t move forward.


[1] Women are Over-Mentored (But Under-Sponsored); Herminia Ibarra interview; Harvard Business Review, hbr.org.

[2] Women are Over-Mentored (But Under-Sponsored); Herminia Ibarra interview; Harvard Business Review, hbr.org.

[3] Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women; Herminia Ibarra, Nancy M. Carter, Christine Silva; Harvard Business Review, hbr.org, Sept. 2010

[4] Sponsors vs Mentors: What’s The Difference? Womenpoweringbusiness.com; forbes.com, Dan Schawbel interview Sylvia Ann Hewlett: Find A Sponsor Instead Of A Mentor, Sept. 2013

[5] Addressing the business of ‘women’s issues’; David Olive, Toronto Star, September 24, 2015



Want more insights on becoming a great leader or download a copy of our Women Shaping Business Study 2015? Go to http://www.womenshapingbusiness.ca

Join the Women Shaping Business Linkedin Group, and keep the conversation going all year around!

Follow us on Twitter @RandstadCanada with hashtags #womenshapingbiz and #mywfactor





Tags: Women Shaping Business, Mentorship, Leadership & Ethics

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