As public relations professionals most of us are glass half full types, and we spend our days putting the best finish on any situation. So it is no wonder, that when you bump in to a leader in our industry they are likely to tell you how brilliant everything is going. Business is good. Family is good. Not a care in the world!
But the reality can actually be quite different. Whilst it is a huge honour to be in a CEO, MD, or Director position within any organisation, it comes with huge amounts of stress and there can be a fair few difficult days.
On the 7 of March we hosted a warts and all panel event where Preena Gadher, Daljit Bhurji, Effie Kanyua, and Truda Spruyt agreed to bare their souls in what it is like to be in a leadership position from the highs to the lows and the attempts to live life in the middle.
The overwhelming sense from the panel was that leadership is a unique experience for every individual. One person’s stress is another’s adrenalin rush. But what is clear, is that in our industry, the thing that brings the most joy, as well as the most stress, is people.
Preena Gadher, Co-founder and MD of Riot communications summed it up nicely when she said: “Great leadership is about being vulnerable. Being honest and authentic enables your team to be honest and authentic with you as well”.
Daljit, CEO and Co-founder of Diffusion, believes that: “To lead is to be decisive at the right time – knowing when to step in, when it’s your call, and when it is an opportunity to empower your team”.
Critical to the discussion was that whilst in a position of leadership the buck stops with you, that the self-realisation has to be that it is no longer about you. Effie, Director of PR & Communications at Hearst put it perfectly, when she said: “How to manage your people better – developing their talents and inspiring them is an important part of leadership”.
Leadership is hugely demanding and hugely rewarding. And as a leader, you have to see the bigger picture from the finances, business development, people development, diversity and inclusion, wins/losses, mental and physical health, safety, and fun…… Each individual will do it their own way, and so they should, but Truda, Practice Director of Culture at Four Communications, left us with this sound piece of advice: “Take the long view. You will make mistakes and it is important to accept and embrace that”