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Are You An Event Manager Or An Event Leader?

Are You An Event Manager Or An Event Leader?

Are you an event manager or an event leader PHOTO (1)

As your perpetual cheerleader for an industry that is undervalued, here I go again. We often define ourselves as event managers, I would argue we should consider ourselves event leaders. What is the difference between manager and leader you ask? Good question. A manager is an individual in charge of a certain group of tasks and/or department. A leader is a person who does the following:

  • Creates an inspiring vision
  • Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision
  • Manages delivery of that vision
  • Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision

If this isn’t what we do, I don’t know what is. In fact, I should have called this article “Are You a Split Personality?” as many event managers often play the role of leader and manager with their clients and team.

Let’s break this down.

Step One:

The client comes to us with an idea, call it a “vision” even, we then gather information (interpret as heavy listening and questioning) define goals and priorities and then craft an inspired vision (or re-craft one) for the client.

Step Two:

We then engage them on the idea that this is the best approach to achieve their short and long term goals within the outlined parameters. Once the client is on board we need to engage the rest of the planning team, internal and external/vendors, which you, Leader, are probably a part of too, thus the split personality comment above.

Step Three:

The strategy and vision need to become a tactical plan that can be executed against and you as event manager, oh yeah, leader need to manage delivery of this process through to the events fully realized state on site.

Step Four:

Throughout, you build and coach your team to produce the best possible and most effective outcome for the client.

As you can see from the above the process is more aligned with the definition of a leader than a manager. The reason an event leader is so critical to our clients’ success is that if we simply focused on the individual managerial tasks like design, audio-visual, collaterals, hotel and transportation manifest management without the vision constantly guiding us we would have a disjointed and ultimately mediocre outcome. These items and more must come together in a cohesive way to achieve the vision of any event. Therefore, what this also illustrates is that all good event leaders, in my opinion, must know how to manage all these tasks before they can lead a client and a team. A concrete understanding of event fundamentals is crucial.

So leaders, one last thing. Now that you have the fundamentals knocked, you need to ensure you embody the characteristics (as with the above this is defined by James Manketlow + the Mind Tools Team in the article titled Transformation Leadership: Becoming an Inspirational Leader) of a leader, which are:

  • Is a model of integrity and fairness
  • Sets clear goals
  • Has high expectations
  • Encourages others
  • Provides support and recognition
  • Stirs the emotion of people
  • Gets people to look beyond their self interest
  • Inspires people to reach for the improbable

We are transformational event leaders and, if not, let’s aspire to be!

Shameless plug time for those of you still working on the fundamentals – I will be teaching an Event Fundamentals class for the Event Leadership Institute in Washington, DC through the fall of 2015. The class will be hosted Tuesday evenings, from September 29th to December 15th. As a faithful reader, if you’re interested in signing up for the class use the code REBECCA_20 for a discount on your registration. Learn more: http://bit.ly/1V5P4Qu

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