As if the logistic stress isn’t enough, event planners also must know how to lead event teams and volunteers. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we make mistakes that may costs us work efficiency or mutual understanding.
And while you can always learn how to plan an event, being a leader is much more difficult. First, it requires a great deal of self-management and awareness. Second, being a leader equals constant innovation and the responsibility to try new things. Third, leaders are the ones who navigate the ship of uncertainty, while guiding and inspiring others. Moreover, high-performance leadership revolves around efficient team vision and powerful work strategies. Not an easy role to take on, is it?
As Jesse Sostrin, founder and president of Sostrin Consulting, writes in a Harvard Business Review article, "One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading. As a new manager, you can get away with holding on to work. Peers and bosses may even admire your willingness to keep ‘rolling up your sleeves’ to execute tactical assignments. But as your responsibilities become more complex, the difference between an effective leader and a super-sized individual contributor with a leader’s title is painfully evident."
By combining both your event-planning skills and your leadership abilities, you’ll become a highly valuable professional who’s not only executing, but also envisioning the next steps. So if you want to develop leadership skills as a planner, check out the following steps you must take:
Step 1. Work on self-leadership
You can’t lead others without developing self-leadership skills. Visa credit card founder Dee Hock once said, "If you want to lead, invest at least 40% of your time in leading yourself." Self-leadership and self-coaching is about being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, your values and mission, your goals and roadblocks. According to the top expert Lars Sudmann, a top leadership expert who advises executives at Fortune 500 companies, there are seven metrics for self-leadership:
- The number of ideas you had per day.
- The number of books you read per month.
- How many notes you take each day.
- The amount of feedback you request per week.
- The number of reflections you have per day.
- The number of reminders you set per day.
- The number of actions you take each day.
As you can see, self-leadership revolves around self-monitoring, self-reflection, and self-regulation.
Step 2. Create clarity for yourself and for your team
Leadership starts with an idea or a goal you want to achieve. Both you and your event team need as much clarity and consensus of that idea or goal as possible. Is your goal to become the best event agency in your town? Is your objective to build a strong community around your event? Do you believe that your team’s mission is to provide top planning and event marketing services for high-quality clients? By creating clarity and being accountable for your actions, you’ll be able to successfully lead your team and achieve outstanding results.
Step 3. Plan your future actions by keeping a positive mindset
As Dr. Shelly Mohanty argues in the research paper 'A Leader with Positive Attitude and thinking can bring great Success', "The attitude of a leader has a huge impact on the culture and environment of an organization. The leader’s attitude tends to spread and affect others drastically. A good leader truly cares about the moral of the team, motivates his team with respect, a relentlessly positive attitude."
A good leader must inspire his or her team - that’s why having a negative mindset can create tension and unwanted attitudes. Positive thinking doesn’t necessarily involve seeing life or work through the rose-colored glasses and acting like everything is always perfect all the time.
Leaders will always face problems and challenges. But by manifesting a positive attitude and knowing that you and your team can handle whatever happens, you will be greatly improving the organizational culture, as well as your team’s morale.
Step 4. Learn how to manage uncertainty
Although we are living in a highly volatile world, the event industry stands out as being a minefield, filled with uncertainty and crisis moments. That’s why one important step in becoming a true leader is to learn how to manage stressful and uncertain situations. However, you can’t use shortcuts. This skill comes with time and practice, only.
Step 5. Generate small ideas and notice if they stick or not
What do leaders do? They lead, right? Indeed, yet that’s not all they do. They also innovate. According to Sudmann, a concept known as the Spaghetti principle is used to test innovation and change: throwing ideas around and seeing what sticks (just as you would throw a spaghetti noodle on the wall to see if it’s ready).
Sudmann insists that leaders or those who want to become leaders should apply the Spaghetti principle techniques regularly by trying out new things often, and then measuring the outcomes. If it proved to be an improvement or a success, keep it; if not, get rid of it and replace it with something else.
As an event team leader, don’t be afraid to offer new approaches to old problems and come up with innovative ideas for improving the planning and event marketing processes.
Call to action
You can’t become a leader overnight, but you also don’t have to be a born leader to guide your event team. There are specific techniques and strategies you can apply to develop these skills. Start now by asking yourself what you want to accomplish by using your leadership goals. Then, build an action plan that will help you strengthen these leadership abilities and follow it daily. Good luck!