Tuesday, June 14, 2011
President's Word: Leadership Quest
Leadership. A concept and topic that has been theorized, debated, lauded, bemoaned, demonized, memorialized and even launched a plethora of cottage industries centered on training and education.
I, myself, have taken numerous undergraduate and graduate level courses in leadership, as well as attended various leadership seminars throughout my career (let’s not even bring up how many books on leadership I have read over the years).
So at this point in my career I’m fairly comfortable that I know “leadership” when I see it, but I’m also humble enough to realize that leadership is similar to ethics in that we all believe we know it when we see it, but in reality, we all bring a lifetime of collective experiences to how we ultimately define “leadership” and my definition may be different than others.
At the root of every discussion around “leadership” is whether people are natural born leaders, or, whether individuals can become leaders through education, training and opportunity. I happen to believe the answer to both is, yes.
I believe all of us are born with the capacity to lead and for the majority of us we do embrace a leadership role in some way, shape or form throughout our lives. Whether it’s in a formal or informal leadership capacity, at some point we influence others, make a difference in our community, drive inaction to action and enable others to exceed their own expectations. In other words, we bring out the very best in ourselves and others around us.
I personally have always liked the quiet leaders in our world who go about inspiring others and drive change through their actions, not their celebrity. Mother Theresa will always be my number one inspirational leader. So, too, Mrs. Keller, my fifth grade teacher who not only celebrated my scholastic ability, but also embraced the fact that I was the “biggest tomboy” in class and that was o.k. Then there was my first PR boss out of college. After serving three tours in Vietnam as a green beret, he came home and built a new life for himself and his family. He taught me the power of commitment, believing in something larger than yourself, and the importance of doing a job well, or not at all.
I have had the benefit of following in the footsteps of many leaders over the years, and I hope in turn the lessons they imparted to me I have been able to pass on to others.
As I begin to wind down my year as president of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association, I am excited about a new crop of leaders preparing to take the helm.
At our upcoming July meeting we will cast our vote for a new board of directors. Whether these outstanding public relations professionals came to their leadership abilities through nature or nurture does not matter. All that does is that they’re ready to inspire, energize, motivate and lead our organization. But perhaps the most significant reward will be at the end of their term, when they’ll all be better leaders themselves because they were willing to step up to the plate, grab the reins, and enjoy the journey.