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The Softer Side of Leadership

I was recently thrilled to be invited to speak at the Women’s Business Network April Breakfast Mix and Mingle.  In keeping with the Strut Your Stuff theme of Leadership, it was so nice to be able to speak to the softer side of Leadership, an area of Leadership that is often overlooked in literature. Although I am not a certified coach, I have found that the following key points are important areas to keep in mind when finding or honing your own Leadership style:

  1. Lead by example – Never be afraid to get your hands dirty. It is important that you don’t ask anything of your folks that you wouldn’t do yourself.
  2. Support your team by mentoring and coaching – When you show your team that you value their professional development, they will invest in the organization. When they succeed, you and the organization succeed.
  3. Motivate with praise as often as you can – A kind word and positive feedback go a long way.  Even the small things matter!
  4. Small organizations leave little space between leaders and the team – Ensure you empathize with your staff, understand the why’s of where they’re coming from. Value their opinion. Know your stuff, but don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t.
  5. Make your staff feel safe – Leading is not just about having staff follow orders, it is important to foster an environment where people feel safe to express their ideas and opinions.
  6. Keep things fun – Colleagues spend a lot of time together – it is a shame to spend that time without having fun or enjoying what you are doing.

The soft side of leadership is the truth side, the heart side, the conscious side, the love side. How many people do you know who admit that professional and technical skills are a lot easier to master than personal and human skills?

The soft side of Leadership takes energy and creative ideas which need to be replenished and nurtured. The following 4 suggestions will allow you to replenish and manifest the kind of leader you want to be:

  • Feast on feedback – Most people are afraid to tell the truth to their superiors. Find ways to insist on hearing from people and make sure that you take feedback seriously, don’t ask if you’re not prepared to change.
  • Hire a coach or a mentor – You need coaching and mentoring too!  It’s true in sports, and it’s true in leadership. Engage a coach who you trust to talk straight to you, one who gets the importance of “who you are” vs. “what you do”.
  • Be quiet – A person can’t grow being in reactive, firefighting mode all the time. Your inside shrivels if you never get quiet. Pray. Meditate. Walk slowly in the park. Sit alone. Figure out what will work for you.
  • Find a friend or two – Someone your trust that is safely away from work. Find like-minded people you can let your spiritual hair down with. Tell them the truth. Laugh with them. Admit where you’re hurting. Even a leader needs someone to hold them to the higher pathway in life.

I hope that a few of the nuggets that I have shared have resonated with you or allowed you to reconnect with some ideas that may have strayed from your practice. These practices have served me well in my 18 years of leadership and I welcome you to share and pass along any other suggestions that you have found work for you.


New Thinking in Government! GoC Innovation Hub Launches!

At Delsys we’ve been at the forefront of developing innovative services for government clients for years. We continue to develop and refine our unique blend of System Dynamics, Visual Thinking, Behavioural Economics, and other disciplines.

This willingness to learn, experiment, and take risks is at the heart of what our clients refer to as, “The Delsys Experience”. It keeps us on the cutting edge and distinguishes us (and the results we generate for clients) from other consulting firms.

It’s one of the reasons clients who have worked with us keep coming back for more.

That’s why we’re very excited about the recent launch of the Government of Canada’s “Central Innovation Hub”. This initiative, whose launch was tweeted by the Clerk of the Privy Council Office, is part of the Government’s Blueprint 2020 roadmap to modernize Canada’s public service. We will be watching its progression and supporting the Hub (and its counterparts in other government departments) in any way we can. It’s inspiring to see our Government take this kind of initiative.

Check out the link to an article the Ottawa Citizen wrote about the “Hub”.


Behavioural Economics and the Human Brain

Over the past ten years, the author of this Issues Note and his many co-authors and colleagues with Delsys Research and other organizations have been conducting research and consulting studies on whether, why, and how behavioral economics, neuroeconomics, and other less conventional economics literatures can be applied to improve the design, administration, enforcement and performance of competition, consumer protection, product safety, environmental, and other policies, laws and regulations of government.


Top Ten Networking Tips

A recent exchange between Delsys employees sparked the idea for the subject of this blog. Our Senior Analyst, Craig, was running off to a networking meeting and having trouble folding his pocket square, when our Office Manager, Jenn, told him about a trick her Dad used to use with his suits – he would wrap the pocket square in a business card to get the perfect angle and a firm square that would always hold up in the pocket. She also noted that in doing so, you would always have a spare business card. So in honour of Jenn’s Father’s brilliant networking tip, I challenged the Delsys team to come with our 10 top networking tips. So here goes:


Moving Towards a Principles Based Approach

The advantages and challenges of transforming a rules-based regulatory regime into a more principles-based regime…

Over the past decade and especially in the past few years, Delsys Research and its associates and colleagues have completed a number of consulting assignments as well as their own research and papers on the advantages and challenges of transforming a rules-based regulatory regime into a more principles-based regime.  Our experience, ideas and insights on a successful transition process are contained in an Issues Note which was presented to the Community of Federal Regulators in Ottawa on November 7 2014.  The note and presentation offered five major arguments and lessons.

  1. On balance, the principles-based regulation approach offers many advantages over rules-based regulation for many regulatory authorities and regimes.
  2. The challenges, constraints, costs, effort and time associated with moving from a rules-based to a principles-based regime should not be minimized.
  3. Most regulatory regimes are to varying degrees a hybrid, which encompasses a combination of broader principles and more specific rules in areas where greater precision is needed.  When a hybrid approach is being assessed, regulators and stakeholders should consider a range of options including: legislation, regulations, guidance documents of various kinds, and jurisprudence.
  4. In assessing and selecting the most appropriate instruments for achieving greater precision, regulatory authorities need to work closely with regulatees and others in order to ensure that the hybrid regime incorporates the best rather than the worst of the both regulatory worlds.
  5. While moving to a principles-based approach is broadly consistent with and supportive of regulatory reform and modernization and deregulation, this should not be viewed as a panacea for an under-performing regulatory regime; and as a method for regulatory authorities to contribute to government expenditure and deficit reduction policies through reductions in regulatory budgets, resources and capabilities.


Seeing the Big Picture: How Systems Thinking Can Help

Considering how each part of an organization’s work interacts with other parts can help organizations such as the Canada Revenue Agency identify problems and develop effective solutions.


Election Signage: Who Gets My (Design) Vote?

Working at Delsys, I’m overwhelmed by the number of lawn signs springing up on this cold October morning. The first batch of our election signs always inspires the designer in me to keep a fresh perspective for my clients and reminds me how design trends change and how a smart, classic approach can be timeless.


CASL: Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

When Reader’s Digest sends a touching email asking for consent, you may realize that something new has been happening in emails: more and more, consumers are getting the relationship question. Well, the business relationship question, anyway. Companies sending commercial electronic messages are now asking for explicit client consent to continue marketing products and services to Canadians.

As a consumer, this newfound respect is certainly intriguing (and, in the case of some relentless spammers, possibly unnerving). But there is a reason for it. As of July 1, 2014, CASL, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, is now in effect. The law is intended to provide strong protections for consumers against the most damaging spam and threats, while limiting the impact on Canadian businesses. By providing a legal mechanism to obtain express consent from existing clients, businesses retain the ability to responsibly send marketing messages and compete on the global stage.

This is great news for consumers and businesses alike. However, if you are in business, you need to know what your business may or may not do to be compliant under this significant new legislation. In fact, anyone who makes use of commercial electronic messages needs to be aware of CASL.

See below to download a visual overview of CASL.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation


National Public Service Week

With National Public Service Week upon us, our Delsys team reflects on the many fantastic and inspiring public servants we’ve had a chance to work with over the last year. In portfolios like Health, Telecommunications, Environment, Employment, Finance, and Justice, we’ve come across truly innovative thinkers and individuals who embody the idea of public service in its truest sense. We have been professionally privileged to work with all of these people and look forward to another year of exciting and inspiring work. We would like to thank all of Canada’s public servants for their hard work and for the opportunity to help them fulfill their visions for the future.


The Secret Powers of Doodling on CBC’s The Current

Just listened to a great CBC podcast on the power of doodling!

My teammates here have alerted me to a great discussion from Friday morning’s CBC radio show, The Current.

As a lifelong doodler who wasted many a math class, I am gratified to learn that it has such an important place in our thought processes and creative pursuits.

Check out the podcast here:

Tweet your own doodles to CBC: #Doodleoftheday