Originally published by Trade Show Executive June 2018 Edition
When English poet John Dunne wrote these words in the 17th century, he could not have imagined the breadth or relevance this phrase would still hold in 2018. In executive management, one of the biggest responsibilities a leader carries on his or her shoulders is to keep the organization moving forward. Because we know that we cannot do it alone, our greatest resource becomes the knowledge, experience and commitment of our team.
Inevitably, the question every leader must ask is: how do I help the members of my team embrace the organization’s vision and make it their own?
Offering professional development opportunities is one of the most effective answers to that question. Yes, it requires an investment on behalf of the company. And yes, sometimes the budget may paint this as more of an “extra” that may not be feasible at the time. But investing in the growth and development of your staff may not be as much of an “extra” as you may think. Remember what I said above: the best teams are the ones with the best knowledge, experience and commitment – and investing in your team gets you those winning qualities.
Knowledge. We hire our team members based on the knowledge they have at that time, but times change and we must change with them – especially once you factor in technology! Keeping your team members at the forefront of your industry’s latest developments keeps your organization at the forefront of your industry.
For example, show organizers who attend Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition learn about the latest technology and techniques being used by today’s top events. The wealth of information presented at this one conference can be used throughout the year across various capacities, yielding a return-on-investment for each team member that would take years to gain otherwise. When you realize that developing your team’s collective knowledge can serve as a money saver in the long run, it becomes a much more critical line item in the budget.
Experience. As the saying goes, experience is the mother of all wisdom. The balance between new information and good old-fashioned “living and learning” creates a powerhouse for any executive team. Each year at IAEE’s Women’s Leadership Forum we hear the same comments from young professional attendees: “What a gift to learn from such successful women sitting where I want to be!” Conversely, industry veterans tell us: “How invigorating to take in the fresh energy and enthusiasm from such promising young women!” We receive similar comments from those who experience the IAEE Krakoff Leadership Institute each year.
Knowledge and experience maintain a symbiotic relationship, and a great leader will nurture both. It is just as important to invest in the professional growth of your more seasoned team members as those who are newer to the organization. Take full advantage of cross-referencing what each has to offer to maximize your team’s potential.
Commitment. This may be one of the greatest benefits a leader receives from investing in his or her team members’ professional development. Showing your team members that you care about their growth provides the entire organization with a huge morale boost. The ripple effects include increased job satisfaction and a more engaged staff, which lead to higher productivity and a greater sense of loyalty to the organization. We see it time and time again with IAEE members whose companies offer them the opportunity to earn their Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation.
As you develop the reputation for being the kind of leader who goes all out for his or her team, don’t be surprised when they go all out for you! And, don’t be surprised when you attract the best and brightest to your organization as word gets out that your organization is all about reciprocity. What organization doesn’t want highly motivated individuals driven to be the best at what they do knocking on its door?
A great leader is expected to achieve greatness, right? Which typically involves the backing of a great team. Can an organization – with you as its fearless leader – afford to invest in its team’s professional development? Seeing as no man is an island, I don’t see how it can afford not to.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO