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Gemma Beierback

CEO, Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board

Q: WHAT THREE ADJECTIVES WOULD YOUR COLLEAGUES USE TO DESCRIBE YOU?

A:

• Energetic

•  Positive

•  Driven

•  Lover of sticky notes (not an adjective, but accurate)

Q: WHAT THREE ADJECTIVES WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF?

A:

•  Hyperactive

•  Pragmatic

•  Optimistic

•  A great lover of sticky notes

Q: DO YOU HAVE A HOBBY OR NON-WORK-RELATED ACTIVITY THAT YOU THINK BENEFITS YOU / ENHANCES YOUR EFFECTIVENESS AT WORK?

A: I am obsessed with travel. I spend much of my free time researching destinations, cross referencing flight options, reviewing accommodation choices and finding deals. I love the planning, preparation and research that goes into finding an amazing destination and planning it out. It is extremely rare that I don’t have something booked; I am generally planning the next trip as I am flying home from the previous one. I enjoy the planning as much as the actual trip and take pride in my ability to shop a destination to the point that I find an amazing deal. It is more than a hobby. Some might say it borders on an obsession, but it brings me immense joy!

Q: WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MOST PRESSING CHALLENGES TO THE ASSOCIATION SECTOR CURRENTLY? DO THESE KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT — OR DO YOU HAVE AN APPROACH TO BUILD RESILIENCE AND STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE?

A: I am really excited about the future of the association sector.  I think we are in the process of some pretty exciting transformations.  I “fell” into association leadership, which I think is a pretty common path — I was working in a profession then was hired into an association. In my decade in this world I have been heartened to see some significant shifts. There is an increasing focus on hiring association leaders who have association leadership skills and training, like the CAE designation, versus just hiring people from within that particular association sector. I think this is a really important step to helping associations navigate some pretty critical and impending pressures. There are significant financial pressures on associations and amalgamation seems inevitable in many arenas. Having skilled leaders who understand the association world in a holistic manner provides a diverse perspective and helps remove the ego barrier to amalgamation.

(c) iStock.com/Cecilie_Arcurs

Q: IF YOU HAD TO STATE YOUR THREE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?

A:

1. Be honest — tell it like it is, even if that isn’t the desired answer.

2. Be accountable — take ownership of outcomes and find ways to grow and learn from them.

3. Have integrity — for me that means doing what is right, even if no one will ever know.

Q: WHAT TO YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES OF A STRONG LEADER?

A: I am passionate about authentic leadership.  I think — or perhaps better stated, I am hopeful — that we, as a society, are on the cusp of a leadership shift. Leading people is the biggest privilege and challenge you can undertake in your career and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Too often we offer leadership opportunities to people as the result of their tenure or performance. Leadership isn’t a reward for long service or even good output: it is a skill. Whether that skill is nature- or nurture-derived is a matter for a much lengthier article, but suffice it to say it requires a few key elements.

Vulnerability — you need to be able to be wrong and admit it; you need to show people that you struggle too; you need to ask questions and be interested in the answers. If leaders don’t demonstrate their own vulnerability, we cannot expect it in those we lead, and we will be stifled in our work progress and team culture without vulnerability.

Compassion — everyone is on a journey and much of that journey is happening outside of work hours. We need to create workplaces where people can be supported in their journey. That journey may ultimately mean they are aspiring to a position that is outside your organization. Embrace that. If you care about people, genuinely, they will reward you with their honesty, work ethic and respect! 

Authenticity — I firmly believe that we need to allow ourselves and our teams to bring our true selves to work. If we create a workplace that requires a dichotomy in our personality, we will inevitably burn out, it is too tiring to be someone you are not. That means you need to hire wisely, hire for team fit first and everything else can follow. 

Ultimately, the leader’s job is to protect the team, the culture and the individuals therein. This isn’t easy; it means you have to be decisive in your hiring and firing practices, you have to support the growth of your team, possibly even to the point they move on to other positions. You truly need to leave your ego behind and be prepared to take the heat if something goes wrong, but step aside when the accolades arrive. Finally, I think a true leader recognizes when they are not the right leader for the team or the organization and they have the self-awareness to step aside.

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