“Passion anchors a true spirit of excellence.” This encapsulates the ethos of the next generation of communicators in our industry. I recently attended the PROI Regional Summit 2021 where one of the highlights was a forum themed, “The Next Generation of Communicators – What Are They Really Thinking?”. This forum featured the rising stars from some of the top independent communication firms from across the Asia Pacific. The lessons that were brought home by the end of it suggested that we had as much to learn from them as they did from us.
Many topics close to their hearts and minds were openly and candidly discussed, and while my personal favourite topic was, ‘What Advice Would You Give Agency Owners That Are Listening In Now’, in this article, we will be exploring the insights shared by these emerging consultants on the topic of leadership from their perspective.
Anchored In Passion and Purpose
Pursuing a career that you are passionate about is not a new concept, but it is especially significant to the decision-making process of tomorrow’s communicators. They are distinct in their passions and would often place it at the forefront when walking their career paths. Their consistent alignment of seeking meaningful experiences aligned with their passion makes them keen to ensure that the work that they do delivers meaningful impact as well. For any skilled leader, this should be identified and harnessed to develop the individual and inspire others around them.
Whether they are giving their all for a commercial client, an NGO or an organisation involved in the public sector, anchoring the work that they do with a significant purpose, is a key motivating factor for many emerging consultants. In fact, lively discussions were raised around the room regarding issues of equal opportunity, diversity, inclusion, environment, sustainability, social justice, security and mental health and wellness.
Look closer to find the ‘I’ in ‘Team’
The foundations of any effective team are the individuals that work seamlessly together, each with their unique strengths, talents and abilities. For the creative and expressive next-gen communicator, while they often celebrated successes as a team, a point that was highlighted in the session explored the importance of individual recognition as well. Giving affirmation, recognition and rewards for individuals was also vital because they felt appreciated as key contributors and equal partners in collaborating towards the end-goal. Therefore, continue to look for opportunities to acknowledge the rising stars in your team and empower them with the confidence to be independent, high-calibre leaders in the long-run.
Invest In Others As Others Have Invested In You
Leaders who are open to giving and receiving feedback enable emerging communicators to operate independently, and achieve both their personal and professional goals in an environment built on a culture of openness, trust and respect. Empowered communicators understand their own limitations and will be quick to recognise areas to improve. They are hungry for feedback, and they welcome the opportunity to be mentored and coached towards success. They have all been beneficiaries of ‘buddy systems’, mentoring and coaching programs, and are eager to build teams with the same mindset, and are willing to share that knowledge and experience with their junior colleagues as they advance their careers.
Leading with EQ and Empathy is Key
No matter how intelligent, talented or capable someone is, the heart of the matter is always a matter of the heart. The moderator and panelists, who were all emerging leaders in their respective organisations, were all united in believing that a good leader must have a heightened sense of emotional intelligence and an openness to be vulnerable and to lead with authenticity. Leaders must have a good blend of EQ and empathy, care and concern, they must respect personal and professional boundaries, while motivating and challenging their teams to be and to bring the best versions of themselves to work, and strive for excellence in all that they do.
This forum reminded me that passion still fuels excellence and that the innovators and communicators of tomorrow are bursting with passion, purpose and promise. With such insights gained from the session, let us continue our journey with them today as we shape the industry for tomorrow.
By Elaine Chuah, Executive Director of Priority Communications PR