Originally published in Trade Show Executive, March 2016 Edition

“Leadership” is an interesting word to me, because for such a commonly understood concept it can take on avenues uncommonly related to it. The most obvious demonstration of leadership is one that typically comes with a position title. For example, the C-suite and upper management job titles typically reflect a level of commitment and responsibility that go with that “leadership” position. There is a general understanding of the sacrifices versus rewards involved, and it’s a leadership model that has been around long enough to not require much examination. What I would like to consider, are the opportunities that may not immediately come to mind under the “leadership” umbrella.

Continuing Education

I am fortunate to have spent much time with colleagues whose leadership skills I greatly admire, and one thing I have noticed is that learning and developing skills is a non-stop process. A key element to leadership is being able to keep up with the fast-paced industry we are in. Continuing education opportunities abound, and the mark of effective leadership is the willingness to invest in one’s own development and to recognize that you never stop learning. Embrace each and every opportunity to “work smarter, not harder” and expand your professional network. Whether you increase your involvement in your local IAEE chapter, obtain your Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation, apply to the IAEE Krakoff Leadership Institute or take advantage of the abundance of learning opportunities at Expo! Expo!, knowledge is power – and, an undeniable imprint of outstanding leadership.

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Have you ever considered yourself a mentor? Have you had the luxury of drawing on a wealth of great decisions and great mistakes; lessons learned from allies and adversaries; 20/20 hindsight; and a wide array of wisdom and experience only time can bestow? Perhaps you were fortunate enough to have someone give you an upper hand early in your learning process by mentoring you. If you are really lucky, you had a great mentor and/or several mentors that significantly influenced your development. Or perhaps that option was not available to you, and you had to learn what you know through the “school of hard knocks.” Either way, you have very valuable information. Finding a protégé to mentor is a great show of leadership, but some may not know where to start. Ask us about the mentoring opportunities available through IAEE or visit the recently unveiled “Ask a Professional” forum for young professionals housed under Resources on the IAEE site.

Diversity in the Workplace

2016 IAEE Chairperson Julie Smith, CEM, CTA talked about the importance of diversity in the workplace during the Annual Business Luncheon at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Baltimore this past December. One of the best attributes of a great leader is the ability to draw from the greatness of those around him or her. Julie discussed the need for our industry to appeal to new talent and create more awareness about the exhibitions and events industry through channels such as the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign. Between the programs IAEE has created for groups with specific needs and wants, such as the Young Professionals programs and Women’s Leadership Forum, we are looking ahead to ensure that our future remains strong and optimistic, and that we are grooming great leaders to embrace it.


The opportunities are endless when you think outside the typical “leadership box.” In fact, when you really think about it, anyone who chooses to be a variable in the leadership equation may do so. How are YOU factoring into your leadership equation?

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO

Posted by Elizabeth McQuade

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