Leaders 2.OL: A tool for enhancing leadership

This tool is intended for those who play a role in selecting candidates for positions of leadership in federal institutions, both in Canada and abroad. It provides the criteria that must be taken into account in decision-making processes for Governor in Council appointments and for positions filled via federal public service hiring processes. This tool will help you assess whether knowledge of both official languages is required to fulfill the duties of a position.

Knowledge of both official languages is a leadership competency

Being able to communicate in both official languages allows leaders to properly represent Canada and Canadians and helps them to fulfill their obligations under the Official Languages Act. Canada is a country with two official languages. Its institutions and representatives must reflect this fact and fulfill the language obligations stemming from the constitutional and legal frameworks in place. Some leaders are called on to represent Canada and its institutions and must therefore embody Canadian values, including linguistic duality. But beyond symbolism, the ability of leaders to communicate in both official languages directly affects the ability of federal employees and Canadians to exercise their language rights.

Leaders set an example for the institution as a whole. Their leadership has a ripple effect throughout the institution. Leaders who use both official languages in communicating with their employees and in their public statements send a clear message about the importance they place on the two official languages and members of both language groups. To obtain employee buy-in, leaders must promote linguistic duality themselves and show that they are committed to respecting the Official Languages Act.

A leader is able to express ideas effectively and to persuade and influence others. Since Canada is a bilingual country and English and French are the official languages of its institutions, leaders within federal institutions must be able to perform their role and be equally effective, credible and professional in both official languages.

Governor in Council Appointments

  • Heads of mission
    • As part of their responsibilities, heads of mission participate in conferences, give speeches to various audiences and respond to requests for information. In addition, they host delegations of Canadians from both language groups, including business people, and meet with federal and provincial government officials.
  • Federal tribunals (chairs and members)
    • Federal tribunals are obligated, under section 16 of the Official Languages Act, to hear proceedings in both English and French without the assistance of an interpreter. A tribunal must be able to assign members to hear proceedings in either or both official languages. The chair of a federal tribunal may hear cases, although the chair’s main role is to provide leadership, while members hear proceedings.
  • Leadership positions (deputy ministers and heads of agencies, boards and commissions)
    • Leadership positions refer to deputy ministers and heads of agencies, boards and commissions, regardless of whether they work full-time or part-time. The roles and duties of individuals in leadership positions vary considerably from one institution to another.

Public sector staffing

Individuals in management positions (directors general, directors, managers, supervisors) have an obligation to create a work environment conducive to the use of both official languages and to respect employees’ language‑of‑work rights. Federal institutions must ensure that they have the capacity required to provide services in both official languages. Harmonization of all of these obligations helps employees retain their language skills.

Moreover, all federal institutions must take positive measures to promote linguistic duality and enhance the vitality of official language minority communities.

Visibility of the position

The incumbent is the public face of the institution and represents both the institution and Canada. The leader must embody Canadian values, including linguistic duality, in order to represent Canada and Canadians fully and properly.

  • The incumbent represents Canada and Canadians.
  • The incumbent is the public face of the institution.
  • The incumbent may occasionally be called on to appear before members of Senate or House of Commons parliamentary committees.

Scope of the mandate

The mandate of the institution or position is national or international in scope and affects several segments of the Canadian population.

  • The scope of the mandate is national or international.
  • The mandate is of sufficient scope to affect several Canadian population groups.

Nature of the mandate and duties of the position

The mandate and duties of the position have an impact on the ability of the public or employees to exercise their language rights or to access service of equal quality in both official languages.

  • The incumbent may be called on to speak to the general public or the media.
  • The nature of the mandate and duties of the position require that the incumbent understand the needs of Canadians, including the realities of official language minority communities.
  • The nature of the mandate and duties of the position require that the incumbent be able to communicate with members of official language minority communities, in the official language of their choice.
  • The incumbent may occasionally be called on to address all of the institution’s employees.
  • The incumbent must create a work environment conducive to the use of both official languages.
  • The incumbent must supervise one or more employees who have language‑of‑work rights.
  • The tribunal has a sufficient number of members who are proficient in both official languages to enable them to fulfill their obligations to conduct proceedings and render decisions in both official languages, based on their operational circumstances.