Kevin Farrell

The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) Blog Series is designed to share key insights from our ELP program with the entirety of our membership. After each program session we will share a post with key highlights and resources for those interested in delving further into the topic.

Our first module session took place on September 24, and we were privileged to be joined by Eleanor Mohammed RPP, MCIP. Eleanor is the President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners, Co-Chair of the UN-Habitat Professionals Forum, and the Founder/Principal of Strategic and Resilient Together. With the end of her term in 2020, Eleanor has the distinct honour of being the longest-serving President of the Canadian Institute of Planners.

Eleanor’s session was centered on the question “What is a Leader?” Prior to the session, Eleanor shared five resources with participants to review. These videos helped participants question traditional concepts of leadership, and ultimately pushed them to reflect on their ideas of “what a leader looks like.” Please find the resources below:

Eleanor started her session by speaking about her career journey, highlighting her experiences of personal growth, perseverance, and the different leaders she encountered along the way. The overarching theme of this presentation was to “take the best from those who inspire you”, encouraging participants to develop their own leadership style.

Immediately following the presentation, participants were placed into Zoom breakout rooms. There participants responded to the following series of questions:

  • What are the characteristics and skills of the best leaders you’ve met or worked with?
  • What are some examples of poor leadership that you have witnessed?
  • What do you think are the biggest challenges that leaders face in 2021?

After each question was discussed in the breakout rooms, the participants gathered back together for a “global share-out.” These share-outs led to a powerful and very honest conversation in which participants highlighted the need for leaders to be empathetic, passionate, and present. They also felt that the biggest challenges facing leaders in 2021 were the ever-changing work environments presented by the pandemic, and in turn, a lack of boundaries between work and personal lives.

During the discussion wrap-up, Eleanor asked program participants to think about the leaders around them: “what is their lived experience; what have they overcome; and what drives and inspires them?” She noted that these incredible people are allies, cheerleaders, and sources of opportunity: “Don’t fear reaching out to them when you need them.”

Eleanor closed out the session by reminding the group of “how talented and fabulous (they) are”, and to “keep a file with all of (their) accomplishments. When life gets hard, review that file, and remember the positive impact that (they)’ve had on the world.”

Our next EPL session will focus on Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence. Please be on the lookout for our next ELP blog post, where we will be recapping the session and sharing resources with you all.