by Briana Hamilton
Briana Hamilton is CPCIL’s Communications Coordinator; producing content and compiling resources on themes such as inclusion, ecosocial justice, partnerships, conservation, organizational sustainability, climate change and biodiversity, connection to nature, conservation financing, and ecotourism, to support effective and equitable leadership and inclusion in parks and protected areas across Canada.
During the winter of 2021, I had the opportunity to participate in the online Professional Development Course: “Manager and Leader: a formula for success!” . This course is offered online through Moncton University and was developed in partnership with CPCIL. As mentioned on the course website, the goals of this course include:
- Learning more about yourself and your emotional intelligence;
- Distinguishing a managerial role from a leadership role;
- Becoming familiar with leadership in all its aspects;
- Factoring in other essential leadership skills, like communication, teamwork and conflict management.
Whether you are new to the practice of management and leadership–or if you have years of experience under your belt–this course is a great introduction or refresher on how to be an effective leader in the workplace.
What I Enjoyed About the Course
Applying Theory to Real Life Scenarios
Throughout this course, participants are challenged to identify their natural leadership style, and to analyze the pros and cons – or strengths and weaknesses – of their leadership style. This process involved more than simply reading about leadership and management theories: Participants apply and reflect upon their leadership style through activities and discussions surrounding real life scenarios and challenges that happen in the workplace.
To me, this may have been the most enjoyable part of the course, and I think it was equally the most effective part of the course as it showed how each leadership style can effectively support a team.
Applying a New Lens to Workplace Communication & Conflict
This course provided a new lens on workplace conflict and communication. How so? First of all, participants were invited to recognize and understand challenges associated with our leadership style to make us aware of certain managerial and leadership behaviours that could be perceived negatively. This helps a manager to:
- Identify the most effective way they can communicate and lead their team and informing potential changes to our practices and approaches
- Create a reflective and open-communication workspace
Aside from diving into our own leadership style, participants gained a better understanding to the other styles they may find in their superiors and colleagues. By being able to identify leadership and communication styles of their team members, a manager can:
- Best prepare and communicate challenges, tasks and appreciation of work
- Better understand the behaviours of their team members
- Take a step in someone else’s shoes when conflict arises and have a better understanding of how this individual may respond or feel
Offering a Self-Paced Approach
I really enjoyed the pace of the course. Aside from the handful of pre-determined course session dates, I was able to complete tasks and assignments at my own pace. This allowed me to maintain a positive workload balance; I felt involved and active in the program, but never felt overwhelmed.
What I Think Park Leaders Could Benefit From the Course:
This is a professional development course that increases confidence in your inner leader. With park leaders facing so many complex issues, increased self-awareness helps a manager better support their team (and themselves!) through these challenges.
Having more knowledge and awareness of leadership could also greatly help managers influence their team to be motivated and active followers – and leaders – in the workplace. Imagine the effectiveness of having a whole team of leaders versus one sole individual.
This course may be designed for current (and aspiring) managers, but I think it holds value for any individual working within a team – especially within Parks, Protected and Conserved Areas. The reality is, every role, even those not designated as managerial roles, benefits when the individual is an effective leader. Being a leader means being a strong and supportive team member – which helps a team manage and conquer their work – and goals – together. In my eyes, this holds the true formula for success.