I was in Dallas recently for a PRSA Board of Directors meeting where we spent two days planning for and discussing ways in which to ensure our members benefit tangibly from their association with the largest organization in the world representing the public relations profession.
My students in the undergraduate Communication program at Curry College…especially those in the Public Relations Concentration…hear my views on professionalism daily. My graduate students in the Organizational and Professional Communication area at Regis College get the message roughly every other week…for four hours at a time!
I believe that public relations is populated with people who are committed to ethical, high-quality service to clients or employees.
I hope that my own actions personify that belief…teaching by showing!
Back to Dallas.
Our hosts for the weekend, The Richards Group, were phenomenal. Short of my own experience in Hawaii with the Blood Bank of Hawaii, where I headed the organization’s communications activities, this was one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve encountered in quite some time.
It started with agency founder and chief cheerleader, Stan Richards.
Stan obviously…no two ways about it…lives and breathes a deep commitment to encouraging his employees to succeed.
He actually, in the middle of what had to be a typically busy Friday, had an “all hands on deck” meeting so that he could introduce us, the PRSA Board of Directors, to the 600-plus members of his “extended family” of employees…and them to us!!
The experience was, in a word, amazing.
It was obvious that these folks…every single man and woman, junior and senior professional…was proud to be a part of this remarkably successful organization.
And I believe that commitment is a direct result of Stan’s belief in the inherent ability of anyone to succeed if given the opportunity.
That’s the “takeaway” from this experience…the key to success. If you want people…your employees or your co-workers…to succeed…to demonstrate their capabilities as professionals…empower them to do just that.
Trust them to contribute 110% of their energy, enthusiasm, and talent to the task at hand.
Allow them to stretch themselves…to test the limits of their abilities and capabilities.
Encourage them to reach for the stars…to set high goals, to have high expectations for their efforts, and to believe in their ability to work miracles.
I’m sure not everyone will agree with me on this, but I truly do believe in the basic ability of anyone to accomplish great things.
This doesn’t mean that anyone will be able to replicate Michaelangelo’s “David.” Nor is there likely to be another “Mona Lisa” by a genius named “da Vinci.”
But greatness isn’t always a factor of being able to produce one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Sometimes it’s more about the ability to encourage and inspire others to pursue greatness.
That’s where the magic of leadership comes in. Great leaders inspire others to do great things. They show others, through action and example, how to push their own limits and accomplish things that they normally would not believe possible…and do them very, very well.
And that’s what “professionalism” is all about…doing things very, very well.
And that’s what “leadership” is all about…inspiring others to exceed their wildest dreams.
It starts at the top.
“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on…The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully.” – Walter Lippmann, “Roosevelt Has Gone” [April 14, 1945]