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One of the things I love about the role I play at Telfer Executive Programs is the opportunity that every day offers for me to engage in meaningful discussions and discernment about leadership.  In this time of pandemic driven state of VUCAthe leadership capacity of individuals and indeed of organizations, communities and entire countries is thrown into sharp relief everywhere we look.   Every day presents another set of case-studies to examine, another opportunity to learn from the amazing successes of some leaders and the dismal failures of others.  And every day presents another opportunity to test my own leadership capacity – to self-correct when needed and to feel first-hand the challenges we discuss with participants every day in our leadership programs.      

At the Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership, we too are faced with the confronting challenges of this time and the need to navigate through the fog of the pandemic.  We decided to pivot to embrace virtual learning modalities for the foreseeable future.  Of course, this decision was not made in an instant and our team, our leadership group and our community of practice did not adopt this new direction at the same moment, with the same confidence and with the same initial energy and commitment.  This messy reality tested my own confidence as a leader in this community.   

Early in the chaos, I chose to engage in scenario planning to bring our leadership and our team together – without forcing alignment around a single vision. The sharing that occurred demonstrated that we have a resilient roster of great collaborators who were willing to share their experience with virtual learning.  Resistance began to disappear, and enthusiasm began to build for our new virtual offerings.  

The experience in the past few months as we adapted and shifted to virtual delivery has been remarkable and exhilarating – and the lessons multiply each day. I have been amazed at the talent and commitment in our group of facilitators, faculty and coaches, and program support team as they share their experience and show each other how to pivot with us at Telfer.   

So, preparations are well underway for our fall programs.  After successfully adapting and delivering the remaining modules of our winter and spring programs in a virtual format, I am gratified that we received continued high ratings from the participants regarding the impact and quality of the learning experience. We were able to capitalize on the robust virtual learning platforms  and prove what is possible – even in executive education  where the audience and the motivations of the participants are so much different than in our more traditional academic education programs.   

As we look forward to the fall, I can certainly relate to the uncertainty that we all feel. However, I am modelling my own leadership on community leadership approach, where people are motivated and inspired to work together. As we are seeing with the accelerating pace of social change, we are slowly abandoning the illusions of leader as hero and embracing the power of collective leadership.  This community-based approach is at the heart of Telfer Executive Programs and I am proud that that leaders in our client organizations are increasingly seeing our programs as a worthy investment for their development, even now in this strange and unusual time. 

am confident that the work we have been doing to reimagine and adapt our programs and deliver them virtually will exceed your expectations for leadership development. And I know that our community of facilitators and faculty are dedicated to upholding our commitment to innovative design, timely and relevant content and highly experiential programming.  

We look forward, as always, to contributing to your leadership development. See you this fall online and, if we are able to do so safely, in-person at the Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership!

Glen Orsak
Director, Telfer Executive Programs

Published on August 8, 2020

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