Leadership is more than a job title. It’s about behaviors and actions that inspire. I have been blessed throughout my career to have worked alongside several PR and marketing gurus. Their examples have encouraged inclusion, development, growth and award-winning work from collaboration with clients and colleagues. Here are five leadership tips I’ve learned from mentors that I strive to use and pay forward every day:
1. Be inclusive, not exclusive –
A Managing Director taught me that some of the best ideas come from some of the most inexperienced interns. Instill an inclusive culture and extend that meeting invite to your next ideation session. Our Strategic Objectives team has amazing creatives at every level – from novelists and opera singers to artists and social media influencers. You never know where a groundbreaking campaign idea is going to come from. Keep the door open to ‘the room where it happens’ and engage with as many team members as possible for innovative marketing ideas and impactful storytelling.
2. Ask ‘what if?’ –
Children are the masters of imagination, but as we grow into adults, we often repeat what’s proven successful. SO’s co-founder and partner, Judy Lewis, likes to preface ideas with ‘what if.’ What if there were no limitations, what would you do? In our experience, clients can often find the resources to bring the most creative product launches to life, whether it’s making a giant ketchup slide for Pringles or a fashion show starring dresses made from Cashmere Bathroom Tissue. No idea is a bad idea, so next time you think ‘what if’, share it out loud and it might just come to life.
3. Call out unconscious bias –
Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, may exist toward any social group and could include age, gender, race, physical ability, religion, sexual orientation and more. A former male boss of mine was always spoken to directly in meetings, and I’d often find myself dismissed. I could always trust my boss to bring me into the conversation, with ‘you’d have to ask Laura as she’ll be leading this project’ or ‘does that proposal work for you, Laura?’. His acknowledgment and respect for me as a team member not only inspired loyalty but created change in others’ behaviour. There are many tools available to learn about inclusion, bias and allyship, such as these from Microsoft. Our Strategic Objectives Alliance for Representation (SOAR) committee actively promotes diversity, equity and inclusion and our entire SO team participates in its activities.
4. Just do it –
Whether it’s PR strategies, reports, or media relations, we’ve all been guilty of procrastinating in favour of easy wins on our ‘to do’ list. Remember, the burden of having a looming task is much worse than giving it a go. It can be hard to shape something from a blank sheet of paper but start getting the words down on a page and you’ll soon be on a roll. ‘Just do it’ was a favourite motto of a mentor of mine. She made it her business to encourage making a start, no matter how small, whenever we felt overwhelmed. I keep a post-it with ‘JDI’ on my monitor as a nod to her and a reminder to go for it when I’m tempted to delay.
5. Fuel yourself –
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from a career coach is to find your motivational currency. What’s the unique fuel you need in your tank to bring your best self to work? For some, it’s self-care time such as fitting in a weekly yoga session. For others, it’s time with loved ones. Perhaps it’s playing on a sports team or a mid-week dinner with friends? Whatever yours is, don’t feel guilty about making time for the things that fuel you. We all have individual needs and meeting them helps us stay true to our purpose, prevent burn out, and achieve excellence.
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