Anyone who is an executive director understands two things about today’s workplace – it’s tough out there, and people are struggling.


As leaders, executive directors need to be mindful not only of the pressures their staff is facing, but also their board members while, at the same time, grappling with their own anxieties about a temporary-type workplace, says Barbara Moses, author of What’s Next? Find the Work That is Right For You ($28, DK Books) as well as three other career books.

“They (executive directors) think they are overworked and underappreciated, that they always begging for resources, and its’ true,” says Moses, who is also speaker, a career online tool developer and a career counsellor to career counsellors. “They often have to be much more creative with their resources, and they are in that difficult position. A, not enough resources and B., having so many different bosses; their boards, their members, their staffers…There are so many diverse interests they are trying to satisfy and, at the same time, they are trying to do that with very little time and money.”

Which is why a book such as What Next?, the third edition which was released in January, is helpful, Moses says. Filled with information about trends in the Canadian marketplace, quizzes and guided exercises, the book also offers information on various types of workers and the careers that best suit them.

While What Next? is perfect for those looking for a new career or trying to find their way in their current one, it’s also an important tool for executive directors to help them understand how their staff and board members are feeling, and how to counsel them in an ever-changing job market “by being aware of the pressures their staffers are dealing with and managing accordingly,” Moses says.

“It means recognizing the diverse personalities. (There are) a lot of tips in there on how to tailor what you do based on people’s individual needs in terms of their personality, plus understanding the broader issues they might be grappling with in terms of work-life balance, financial pressures, child pressures, concerns about their kids…They (executive directors) need to understand the pressures of their members are experiencing.”

And that pressure doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better soon.

Canadian organizations will likely continue to rely on contract workers, Moses writes in What’s Next? “But equally important, even if you land permanent, full-time work you will need to have the mindset of a temporary worker…”

Moses, who the media has labelled Canada’s career guru, says she gets her information about the country’s job market from simply being aware of what is going around her and from talking and listening to people.

“Just by talking to people and listening to what people saying, what they are feeling, their anxieties, the things they think secretly, but are embarrassed to say, but really a lot of people are saying the exact same thing, like it’s an accident what they are doing, they just fell into that job or everyone else has it more together then they do or all their friends have great jobs and they are cobbling (bits and pieces of work) together…”

Moses says she is an ideas person, and likes nothing better then coming up with strategies to help people.

“I like thinking, and I like putting words around the thoughts and enabling people, once they have read my books, to feel better about themselves by giving them a framework for understanding their experiences.”

Read my review of What Next? here.