Sunday, November 12, 2006

I am a Railroad Conductor?

Salt Lake City (Nov. 10) This afternoon I attended the Chapter President’s Leadership Workshop that was presented by the executive director, public awareness initiative of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Dell Galloway. When I attend sessions, I tend to get more out of them if the presenter is engaging and truly interested in getting their audience involved. Dell Galloway is that type of speaker.

The session started with the attendees voicing what qualities they felt effective leaders possessed. The list included being: passionate; general interested in the organization; appreciative; intuitive; confident; encouraging; a good listener; able to laugh at yourself; able to have a strong moral compass; authentic; tenacious; and understanding. Out of all of these, I found myself lacking in one major area. I am not the best listener. Let me clarify, I am often not the best listener to other’s ideas. I form my opinions or response to those ideas while they are being suggested to me, instead of just shutting down the cogwheels of the brain and focusing on the speaker only.

The attendees discussed their own choices of effective leaders, which were FDR; Martin Luther King, Jr.; and someone even mentioned Adolph Hitler. Some effective leaders that Galloway had influenced him in the past were Winston Churchill, his eighth grade biology teacher, and his former supervisor at AT&T Corporation.

We all have had those supervisors who were railroad conductor leaders: This means their way was the best way and they just did everything to push through. I came to a horrible conclusion. Since becoming the Chapter President of the PRSSA Chapter at the University of Texas at San Antonio, I have been a ‘railroad conductor leader.’ While sometimes this tactic has worked, I have also faced harsh criticism and almost had a mutiny of our executive board. I sit at the head of the table at all meetings, this can be a huge mistake. By doing this I am giving the impression that I am the almighty and that things should be my way. I am not almighty and going forward I will be listening much more.

Galloway suggested that there is a greater way to lead than the top down. This is the coach facilitator method. This method is key in pulling all of the potential out individuals. The coach facilitator leader helps individuals to develop their own strengths. The way this is done is by nurturing relationships with those in your organization. Galloway suggests that relationships are like bank accounts. Things you do as a leader that are positive are considered deposits. As you lead you build on those deposits, however, sometimes as a leader you also make withdrawals. These come in the form of poor decisions, and not pulling from one or more of the above mentioned qualities.

I took quite a bit away from this session, which includes many things such as the fact that the purpose of PR must include being harmonious with your organization and the client. The three Ls: They are Listen to other’s ideas and suggestions; Learn from those in your organization and other professionals; and Lead your organization to success by implementing what you have learned by listening. I also learned that along with my passion I have to be authentic in everything I do, even when I make mistakes. Sometimes it does not hurt to eat a little bit of crow every now and then. It only proves that you are human.

1 comment:

Kami Huyse, APR said...

I am really impressed that you are so self-reflective. I think you have been doing a great job, but I like your idea of shifting to a coach method. It was in college that I learned about effective delegation, and that has served me all through my career. Good luck, we look forward to seeing good things fromt eh PRSSA chapter in SA with you at the sidelines (coaching).