By Kate Connors As children, we learn to embrace our individuality. As adults, we sometimes feel pressure to conform, but some of the most successful company leaders are those who break boundaries and dare to be different when others stick to conventionality. I recently attended the Intelligent.ly EMERGE workshop, where startup and technology professionals in the Boston area came together to enhance leadership skills. We were challenged to not only define ourselves as leaders in our companies, but to take the lessons we learned and bring them back to our clients and industries. Below are some takeaways from the event:
Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Ahead of the workshop, attendees were required to take the Gallup Strengths Finder poll to discover our top five leadership strengths. While many of the attendees, myself included, came prepared to ask questions about our weaknesses, we were encouraged to do the exact opposite. In a collaborative workplace, it is best to focus on what you bring to the table. Seek team members with strengths that are different from your own, rather than trying to fill every leadership need yourself. As a PR pro, this means helping clients focus on their strengths by positioning them as industry experts, remaining ahead of industry news to hear what is being discussed and bringing clients to the front of those conversations.
Strengthen your approach to influencing. Being an influencer in the workplace means being able to establish a transactional relationship. Ask yourself: What is our client offering that none of its competitors can claim? PR pros need to help clients brand themselves as innovators and disruptors in their industries, and use our influencing skills to help identify the best possible news hooks and story angles to achieve overall success.
Dare to disrupt yourself. Whitney Johnson, author of “Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work,” led the keynote section of the conference. Whitney challenged us to be disruptive in our careers, and to work to make our companies and clients more disruptive in their industries. Communications professionals need to challenge themselves and their clients to step outside their comfort zones, and accept that failure can be part of this process. We have to take on market risks, look for industry needs that aren’t being filled and help our clients fill them.
Become an effective storyteller. As PR professionals, we are no strangers to the importance of storytelling in our work. The final lesson of the conference centered on the importance of understanding your audience to craft an effective pitch and market it successfully. Strong storytelling can help companies – especially startups – differentiate in competitive markets.