Are You a Leader?

In a new report, the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is giving a C+ to top executives in our profession, finding little change in their leadership ability since the survey began in 2015.

The study found that communications leaders gave themselves an A- while those lower in their organizations graded them at C+. This gap, which indicates a blind spot, is alarming.

Because Page Up members are often in positions of leadership even while reporting to CCOs, they are in a great position to reflect on the Plank Center Study. If the average PR leader merits a C+ for leadership qualities, how do you assess your own performance and that of your boss? How do you think the people who report to you would assess your leadership team?

Let’s set the context:

  1. While there is overlap, leadership is different from management. Leadership is demonstrated by articulating a vision, enlisting people’s hearts as well as their minds, fostering teamwork, raising morale and creating a can-do culture. Management is about setting goals, creating processes, clarifying roles, ensuring quality and delivering results on-time and on budget.
  2. To some extent, leadership is defined by organizational culture. Military leadership is different from academic leadership. Leadership in left-brain companies (logical, data-driven, process-oriented) may be different from leadership in right-brain companies (creative, emotional, more spontaneous). Similarly, leadership may emphasize different qualities according to regional cultures – Eastern versus Western, for example.
  3. Few people are born leaders. Early in our careers, most of us concentrate on mastering our craft.  The next stage of our development usually focuses on learning how to be a manager. Page Up members are at the career level where leadership must be learned and perfected.  
  4. Leadership in our profession is crucial if we are to help our companies and clients grow successfully in this tumultuous time. Executive management is struggling to deal with technological change, the threat of disruption, mistrustful stakeholders, restive employees, globalization and much more.  Many of the Page white papers are based on the assumption that CCOs will act as leaders, making bold moves to increase the value the teams are providing.   

We are convinced that the Plank Center’s study demands introspection and debate among people at the top of our profession. So, we want to start a discussion by asking whether you are a leader. Whatever your answer, how do you know? Are you getting feedback on your leadership abilities? Are you clear on what skills contribute to leadership? Are you getting coaching or mentoring to become a better leader?

Finally, do you believe leadership is important?