Learning to be leaders


When Robert Rittwage, Alvin Ma and Stephane Brisson were given the opportunity to participate in career development programs through the Canada School of Public Service, they didn’t hesitate to say yes. As aspiring leaders within CSC, they wanted to take advantage of valuable learning experiences that would help them reach their goals.


“It was a fantastic opportunity,” says Robert. “It was a big commitment and undertaking, but it was more than worth it. I’d recommend it to anyone who has the chance to take this course.”


Robert, an Aboriginal Correctional Program Officer at Joyceville Institution, took the Manager Development Program. This program is composed of four phases, all of which teach students the fundamentals of managing employees within the federal public service. It involved both online and in-person class work spread over one fiscal year. Given the amount of work involved in taking this course, Robert considered himself fortunate to have managers who not only supported his participation in the course, but encouraged it.


Alvin, a Correctional Manager at Mountain Institution, took the Supervisor Development Program. This program, a refresher course for people in management positions, encourages students to explore the key concepts of leadership, communication, delegation, and engagement in the supervisory role. It consisted of an online pre-requisite and three days of in-class learning.


Stephane, Manager, Human Rights, took the Aspiring Directors Program. This program is composed of three phases, all aimed at gaining insight into your leadership strengths and how you can best apply them at work. A combination of in-class learning, peer-mentorship, and professional coaching is used to help participants become effective leaders.


Though each course was different, Robert, Alvin and Stephane walked away having learned new ways to manage employees in an effective and successful way. For Robert, the risk management portion of his course was particularly useful and one that he has applied to his work back in the institution and in various projects on multiple occasions.


“I pretty well use what I learned every single day,” says Robert. “I’m prepared to manage the different situations we encounter at work by making sure that we have the resources and plans in place to deal with them.”


For Alvin, having the opportunity to assess his personality traits during the course opened his eyes to what he brings to the table at work and why he functions the way he does – information that is helpful to know when managing different personalities.


“I’m more aware of why I do and say the things I do,” he explains. “I have a better sense of how and why I’m approaching situations in a certain way, and how I interact with different people. Knowing my strengths and weaknesses has improved my relationships with colleagues and helped me to better deal with difficult situations at work.”

And for Stephane, taking the time to make himself and what he actually wants in his career a priority was invaluable. As someone who was very busy at work and struggling to keep his life balanced, he started the program unsure of whether or not he actually wanted to be an executive. Within just a few weeks that changed, thanks to some helpful discussions with his peers in the class.


“It gave me a fresh perspective on my priorities and what I really want in a job,” he says. “I realized that I can have what I want – I just need to be mindful of what I choose to do and when. I can have a job that fulfills my passion and makes a difference and challenges me, but also allows me to remain balanced. I can find something that meets all of my criteria – it might just take a little longer.”


Beginning April 1, 2017, employees will be required to have a Talent Management Plan in place to enrol in each of these programs. 


“Giving employees more developmental options puts us at an advantage,” says Bev Arseneault, Director General of the Learning & Development Branch, “but learning opportunities should also be incentives. CSC has a limited number of seats for each program, so I encourage motivated employees to include them as part of their Performance Management Program.”


To their colleagues across the country interested in taking these courses, all three have two simple words for you: do it.


“If you don’t jump at these opportunities, you’re missing out,” says Robert. “We can all be leaders, but great leaders take the time to improve, learn, and lead by example.”


“Go for it!” says Alvin. “There’s no way this course wouldn’t be good for you, no matter what area you work in.”


“Everyone who is or wants to be a senior manager or executive should take this course,” says Stephane. “The exchange of information, experiential learning, and networking opportunities are invaluable.”



For more information on CSPS development programs, send an email to GEN-Employee Development - Perfectionnement des employés. 

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