Can You Be a Great Leader Without Technical Expertise?

Can You Be a Great Leader Without Technical Expertise?

Excerpted article was written by Art Markman | Harvard Business Review

There is a broad assumption in society and in education that the skills you need to be a leader are more or less transferable. If you can inspire and motivate people in one arena, you should be able to apply those skills to do the same in another venue.

But recent research is rightly challenging this notion. Studies suggest that the best leaders know a lot about the domain in which they are leading, and part of what makes them successful in a management role is technical competence. For example, hospitals managed by doctors perform better than those managed by people with other backgrounds. And there are many examples of people who ran one company effectively and had trouble transferring their skills to the new organization.

Over the last year, I’ve been working with a group at the University of Texas thinking about what leadership education would look like for our students. There is broad consensus across many schools that teach leadership education about the core elements of what leaders need to know. These factors include: The ability to motivate self and others, effective oral and written communication, critical thinking skills, problem solving ability, and skills at working with teams and delegating tasks.

On the surface, this seems like a nice list. Good leaders do have these abilities and if you wanted to create future leaders, making sure they have these skills is a good bet. They need to take in a large volume of information and distill it into the essential elements that define the core problems to be solved. They need to organize teams to solve these problems and to communicate to a group why they should share a common vision. They need to establish trust with a group and then use that trust to allow the team to accomplish more than it could alone.

But these skills alone will not make a leader because, to actually excel at this list of skills in practice, you also need a lot of expertise in a particular domain.

As an example, take one of these skills: thinking critically in order to find the essence of a situation. To do that well, you must have specific, technical expertise. The critical information a doctor needs to diagnose a patient are different from the knowledge used to understand a political standoff, and both of those differ in important ways from what is needed to negotiate a good business deal.

Even effective communication differs from one domain to another. Doctors talking to patients must communicate information differently than politicians reacting to a natural disaster or a CEO responding to a labor dispute.

When you begin to look at any of the core skills that leaders have, it quickly becomes clear that domain-specific expertise is bound up in all of them. And the domains of expertise required may also be fairly specific. Even business is not really a single domain. Leadership in construction, semiconductor fabrication, consulting, and retail sales all require a lot of specific knowledge.

A common solution to this problem is for leaders to say that they will surround themselves with good people who have the requisite expertise that will allow them to make good decisions. The problem is that without actual expertise, how do these leaders even know whether they have found the right people to give them information? If managers cannot evaluate the information they are getting for themselves, then they cannot lead effectively.

This way of thinking about leadership has two important implications. First, when we teach people about leadership, we need to be more explicit that domain expertise matters. Just because a person is successful at running one kind of organization does not mean that they are likely to have the same degree of success running an organization with a different mission. Second, when we train people to take on leadership roles, we need to give them practice solving domain-specific problems so that they can prepare to integrate information in the arena in which they are being asked to lead. For example, it isn’t enough just to teach people about how to resolve generic conflicts between employees, we should create scenarios derived from real cases so that people have to grapple with all of the ambiguities that come from the conflicts that arise within particular industries.

This issue is particularly important given the frequency with which people in the modern workplace change jobs and even move across industries. This mobility means that many younger employees may not gain significant expertise in the industry in which they are currently working, which will make it harder for them to be effective in leadership roles.  Companies need to identify prospective future leaders and encourage them to settle down in order to develop the specific skills they need to lead.

Canadians Have no Plans to Cut Holiday Spending

Love or hate holiday shopping, Canadians are showing little sign of cutting back on spending this holiday season. The vast majority of Canadians (86 per cent) plan to be as generous, or more, this year versus last year, with an anticipated average holiday spend of $570, according to a recent poll by Ebates.ca.  Those planning on taking advantage of holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, anticipate getting roughly one-third of their holiday shopping finished on these days (36 per cent on Black Friday and 33 per cent on Cyber Monday).

“Canadians may not be spending less, but they are leveraging pre-holiday sales to save money and stretch their dollar further,” said Belinda Baugniet, director of marketing and resident shopping expert at Ebates.ca. “Our survey indicates that convenience is increasingly important to their shopping habits and decisions.”

2017 shopping trends
Parents are anticipated to be the big spenders, shelling out an average of $710 compared to $489 for those without kids, while dads say they plan to spend more than moms ($803 versus $638). Despite 22 per cent of Canadians who still plan on being last-minute shoppers, more Canadians are shopping early this year, with 31 per cent saying they have most of their holiday shopping done before the winter season starts, up from 28 per cent last year. These shopping keeners are more likely to be under the age of 35 (37 per cent), and/or parents of preschoolers (45 per cent). Those who do at least some shopping online (34 per cent) are also more likely to have their holiday shopping wrapped up early than those who don’t (18 per cent).

Some people dread going anywhere near a mall during the holidays, and they are not alone; Canadians increasingly cite shopping for gifts at the mall as their least favourite part of the holidays (62 per cent), up slightly from last year (59 per cent). The majority (82 per cent) of Canadians are turning to online shopping to avoid the chaos and plan to dedicate 38 per cent of their holiday spend online, versus 36 per cent last year. Accordingly, convenience is cited as the top benefit of online shopping (26 per cent), followed by the ability to find things not available in stores (21 per cent).

Speaking of convenience, a whopping 87 per cent of Canadians say they typically purchase gift cards as holiday gifts and just as many say they are happy when they receive gift cards. In fact, only 21 per cent say they are a little disappointed to get a gift card, and just 36 per cent feel a little guilty giving one. By far, the majority of Canadians feel gift cards simplify their holiday gift shopping (84 per cent) and nearly three quarters (73 per cent) feel they are a thoughtful holiday gift. The most popular type of gift card is for restaurants/coffee shops (49 per cent) followed by multi-purpose ones such as Visa gift cards (38 per cent).

Smart strategies
Regardless of where they shop, Canadians strategize ways to stretch their holiday shopping budget. Two-thirds redeem loyalty program points to purchase gifts and 59 per cent make a point of shopping with retailers that offer loyalty points, while 47 per cent make a point of shopping with retailers that offer cash back. Other strategies include:

  • 38% use social media to help them find deals (39% in 2016)
  • 31% use social media to recommend products (31% in 2016)
  • 32% use mobile apps or mobile payment (up vs 28% in 2016)
  • 30% use store mobile apps to make purchases (up vs 27% in 2016)
  • 22% use social media to complain about products (22% in 2016)

About the survey The Ebates Canada survey was conducted online in October 2017 with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Canadians. A sample of this size is accurate to within +/-3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Ebates Inc. The Ebates brand supports a strong community of millions of savvy shoppers around the world. Ebates.com was founded in 1998 and has paid over $300,000,000 in cash to its global members. In 2012, Ebates began international expansion with the launch of Ebates Canada, specifically designed by Canadians for Canadians. Ebates.ca membership is free. To earn cash back, online shoppers log in to Ebates.ca and click through to a partner retail site to complete their purchase. Ebates.ca then tracks the purchase and offers back in cash a percentage of everything bought. Every quarter, Ebates.ca sends members their cash back account balance in the form of a #BigFatCheque or #BigFatPayment through PayPal. Members also have the option to send their cash back to a designated charity.

SOURCE Ebates Canada

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Launches Network Security & Privacy Liability Insurance in Canada

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) today unveiled the Professional FirstTM Network Security & Privacy Liability Policy in Canada, a solution that combines cyber liability and breach response coverage with risk management resources for commercial enterprises and financial institutions.

“We are excited to round out our Executive and Professional Lines offerings with this flexible cyber solution, backed by BHSI’s commitment to service and unparalleled financial strength.”

“Our new policy simplifies the complex endeavor of managing cyber exposures for both our business partners and our customers,” said Michael Densham, SVP, Executive & Professional Lines, BHSI Canada. “We are excited to round out our Executive and Professional Lines offerings with this flexible cyber solution, backed by BHSI’s commitment to service and unparalleled financial strength.”

The Professional First Network Security & Privacy Liability Policy is designed to deliver multi-faceted coverage and crisis management services for large commercial enterprises and a wide range of financial institutions, including credit unions, banks, asset managers, and insurance companies.

Policy highlights include:

  • Coverage for both first and third party exposures resulting from data security and privacy breaches, including regulatory investigations, fines and penalties.
  • Breach expense and extortion threat coverage, addressing the direct expenses an Insured incurs to effectively respond to a breach or extortion threat.
  • Media liability coverage, which responds to traditional media exposures (e.g. through a company’s website) arising from electronic content.
  • Business interruption coverage to pay lost income and related expenses incurred as a result of the Insured’s partial or full business interruption due to a network security failure.
  • Online access to eRiskHub® tools and resources to help policyholders understand cyber exposures, establish a breach response plan, and prepare to mitigate the impact of a breach on their organization. eRiskHub is provided via NetDiligence, a leading cyber security and e-risk assessment firm.

BHSI policyholders also have access to legal experts to help them manage their obligations following a breach, forensic IT services to identify and contain a breach, and public relations and credit monitoring firms to manage the reputational damage that can accompany an incident.

For more information, contact Geoffrey Kendrick at Geoffrey.kendrick@bhspecialty.com for commercial risks and Andrew Knight at Andrew.knight@bhspecialty.com for financial institutions risks.

BHSI’s new Network Security & Privacy Liability Policy is the latest addition to its Professional First suite of professional liability products, which are designed to provide clear, current and customizable coverage for financial and commercial firms.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (www.bhspecialty.com) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety, travel, programs, medical stop loss, and homeowners insurance. In Canada it underwrites on the paper of National Liability & Fire Insurance Company, a part of Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity group of insurance companies, which hold financial strength ratings of A++ from AM Best and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s. Based in Boston, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has offices in Atlanta, Asheville, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Irvine, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Ramon, Seattle, Stevens Point, Auckland, Brisbane, Düsseldorf, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Macau, Melbourne, Singapore, Sydney and Toronto. For more information, contact info@bhspecialty.com.

Court orders PayPal to give business account details to CRA

Business customers who used service between 2014 and last Friday are affected

By Pete Evans, CBC News

The Federal Court of Canada has ordered U.S.-based PayPal to hand over details about its business account customers to Canadian tax authorities.

The court order, obtained by the Canada Revenue Agency, forces the U.S.-based payment processing firm to release information about Canadians with PayPal business accounts who processed transactions between the start of 2014 and last Friday.

PayPal must hand over the names, dates of birth, contact information and — in some cases — social insurance numbers of any business account holders in Canada. The court order was issued last Friday, and the company has until Dec. 25 to comply. PayPal says it has already contacted affected customers about the order, but has not yet handed over the data.

The company has millions of Canadian customers. The majority have personal accounts, which are unaffected by the court order, the company told CBC News in a statement.

In the U.S., PayPal already submits information on any customers who either processed $20,000 US over the network, or made more than 200 transactions in a given year, to that country’s tax authorities. But the company hasn’t been obligated to do the same in Canada.

PayPal also notes: “This is a one-time disclosure of information to the CRA for Canadian PayPal Business Account holders that sent or received a payment between 2014 and 2017. This is not an ongoing request for information.”

Hamilton tax lawyer Craig Burley said in an interview that the court order is a watershed moment in Canadian tax circles.

“They went on a fishing expedition,” he said. It’s common for tax authorities to request information on individual tax filers under investigation, “but this is different,” Burley said. “This is: ‘give us all your customers.'”

By going after what’s known as “unnamed persons” through the courts, the tax agency is taking a much wider comb in trying to find unreported taxable income

“This will almost certainly prove to be the largest CRA information dump that they have ever gotten with this method,” Burley said. “Anyone who has not been fully disclosing income has a real problem here.”

In a statement to CBC News, the CRA said the move is part of the tax agency’s ongoing crackdown against the underground economy.

“The information obtained through the unnamed persons requirement will allow the CRA to ensure that these corporations comply with their tax obligations under the Income Tax Act,” the CRA said. “The CRA has … considerably stepped up efforts to identify individuals and businesses that do not file tax returns and to settle their files.”

Jonathan Farrar, an associate accounting professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, says it’s the first time he can recall the CRA going after unreported tax income in such a major and comprehensive way.

“It’s a more aggressive approach,” he said in an interview. “It’s a big net, and they’re saying, ‘Let’s see who we can catch here.'”

Source: www.cbc.ca/news

 

Why are gas prices in Canada suddenly so damned high?

Excerpted article was written by

Tristin Hopper | National Post

All of a sudden, Canadian gas prices are reaching heights not seen since the release of Sharknado. Even in a cheap fuel haven like Alberta, prices are peaking as high as $1.26 per litre in Edmonton and $1.28 in Calgary. In B.C., the average price is an incredible $1.38 per litre, breaking $1.40 in Vancouver.

So, the National Post called up Dan McTeague with GasBuddy.com and a semi-obsessive expert on all things petroleum. Below, the surprisingly complex backstory to why your Honda just got way more expensive to run.

Blame it all on a production slowdown in the U.S.
Despite our oceans of oil in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada still gets much of its gasoline from U.S. refineries. ExxonMobil just slowed operations at its Joliet, Ill., refinery to carry out some seasonal maintenance. Same deal at a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind. Then a Texas-to-Oklahoma fuel pipeline sprung a leak, necessitating a temporary shutdown. All of these events barely merited a mention in the news, but they’re collectively costing consumers millions in pricier gas. Much of the Canadian gasoline market is subject to the Chicago wholesale price for gasoline. At the beginning of October, it was $0.56 CDN per litre. Now, it’s shot up to $0.65 CDN. And, of course, the end cost is significantly higher for Canadian drivers once taxes, transport costs and profit are all tacked on.

The Americans have been particularly thirsty for gasoline lately
A leaky pipeline and some routine maintenance are “relatively mundane factors,” as GasBuddy noted in a blog, but they’ve been helping to spike prices for the simple reason that Americans suddenly need a lot more gas. U.S. consumers are demanding 257,000 more barrels of gasoline, per day, than this time last year. The country’s economic growth is at three per cent and unemployment is continuing the plunge it began in 2010. It all makes for more cars and trucks on the road, and greater stress on the U.S. fuel supply. This time last year, the U.S. Midwest had 49.5 million barrels of gasoline on hand. Now, it’s down to 45.5 million barrels. “This is the lowest we’ve been in a very, very, very long time,” said McTeague. The result is that the U.S. is similarly getting hammered by higher gas prices, although not nearly as badly as in Canada. Right now, California is home to the highest gas prices in the United States. Still, if Leonardo DiCaprio knows where to look, he can fuel up his Range Rover for the equivalent of 91 cents CDN per litre.

Canadian dollars can’t buy as much gas
One month ago, a Canadian dollar bought as much as 80 cents of a U.S. dollar. By the beginning of November, that was down to as low as 77 cents. Naturally, a devalued currency means it costs Canada just a bit extra to bring all of its gas and diesel over the border. Although, according to McTeague, the absolute maximum effect this would have at the pump would be to raise prices by four cents; a fraction of the 16 cents on average that Canadian prices have risen since early October.

Unfortunately, things probably won’t be getting any better
U.S. production will eventually catch up. That ruptured pipeline mentioned earlier is already fixed, and major refineries will soon wrap up their seasonal maintenance. However, this is all happening just in time for consumers to get hammered with the effects of higher global prices on crude oil. Demand everywhere is on the upswing, and it doesn’t help that Saudi Arabia is currently threatening war with both Lebanon and Yemen. On Halloween night, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude went for $54 USD ($69.02 CDN). As of press time it’s at $57.24 USD ($73.16 CDN).

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