Friday, December 23, 2011

Lessons in Leadership

I spent the last year serving as president of the Public Relations Society of America’s Colorado Chapter.  With nearly 500 members, PRSA Colorado is a strong organization focused on providing professional development and networking opportunities for the local public relations community. Leading this organization has been a great opportunity for me to grow both personally and professionally. 

On my desk right now I see at least three books with the word “leadership” in the title and while these have all been valuable resource for me, there is nothing like “on the job” training.  Here are some of my lessons learned from the past year:

Surround Yourself With Good People
There is no way to be a good leader all by your self. You need strong, smart, and reliable people to lead an organization.  I was fortunate to have a board of directors and committee chairs made up of top-notch PR professionals who were committed to making our organization the best it could be.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
It is too easy to fall into the trap of “it is quicker if I just do it myself.” You need to empower other people for their own benefit and so that you don’t get so bogged down that you can’t focus on being a good leader.

Be Passionate
Passion is a hard quality to fake. You must be passionate about being a leader and passionate about the organization you are leading. Without it, your role as a leader will feel like work and you will resent the time you devote to it.

Face Challenges Head On
No matter how much you plan ahead and manage deadlines there will be challenges. Don’t be afraid to stand up and take on a challenge. While it might not be fun, the quicker you step up and take control, the quicker you can move on.

Be Flexible
You may start out with a strategic plan outlining how you want the organization to operate and what you want to accomplish.  The reality is that things will never go according to plan. There will be challenges and opportunities that you did not plan for and you need to be flexible enough to change direction or reorient to keep everything moving smoothly.