Category Archives: Field Notes

Are you a Martyr?

Learning to lead so others can shine

Many of us had a wake-up call at Leadership Institute last week in San Diego. Our keynote workshop with Cynthia D’Amour, MBA, hit home as she pegged a style of volunteer leadership that leads to:

  • Long hours.
  • Burn out.
  • Zero ability to recruit and engage with board members and other volunteers.

We all know the type and some of us resemble them — they give 110 percent because they care. They work long, hard hours. So, what’s the problem? It is killing our volunteer pool and in some cases our chapters.

Cynthia encouraged us to:

  • Move beyond saying ‘we’ve always done it that way’ by owning results and allowing others to get involved so they too own the results.
  • Develop people rather than doing all the work ourselves. (Who would want to take our place if we are modeling a job that is all work and zero fun?)
  • Invite people to a fun and meaningful experience – rather than expecting them to do everything our way. (Let go and let others take charge. It might not be how we would do it, but they will be engaged and they will want to do it again.)
  • Celebrate the work of others – rather than moan about all the work we’ve had to do ourselves. (Every time we volunteer to do something ourselves, we just stole an opportunity for someone else to shine.)

So, our work and success will be shared with others. We will become masters at giving others the opportunity to shine. The more others shine, the more fun the group will have and before you know it – your community is growing.

This is leadership, as opposed to managing a chapter, region or even the international board. With this style of leadership, there is more focus on getting others involved to be part of the solution. So basically, if we stop being a martyr, it gives others a chance to be engage. The trick? We have to do it before it’s too late.

Cynthia reminded us that people join a community for one of three reasons:

  1. To learn something new.
  2. To help others – a chance to give back.
  3. To meet new people and grow their network.

Cynthia’s best advice for recruiting volunteers or chapter leaders, is that we must first determine which of the three hot buttons motivates each person.

  • If they are new to the profession or want to keep their skills sharp, share about your chapter’s programs and opportunities to participate in putting those on.
  • If they are searching for a way to give back – maybe they want to present a program.
  • If they simply want to grow their network, introduce them to others in the room and invite them back to your next event.

As Cynthia said – “you can’t go too far on the first date. Wait to ask about board service until you have them hooked. Pull them in, instead of pushing them away.”

Even the invitation to our events should contain the answers to all three hot buttons (learn, help and meet) so we are offering something to everyone.

For those of us in the room at LI, it became clear that if we are a martyr leader, we are keeping others from getting involved and having their opportunity to shine. There is an art to leadership – and that art is about knocking down roadblocks and empowering others to succeed.

Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way!

———-

Cynthia D’Amour, MBA, is author of The Lazy Leader’s Guide to Outrageous Results. For twenty years she has worked with association leaders and staff to help get more members involved using a relationship-based approach.

Thank you to these sponsors for our keynote speaker Cynthia D’Amour. A special shout-out to the women leaders of the IABC Tulsa Chapter that made this possible with donations from their companies.

Closing out #IABC1417 – a strategy that transformed IABC

At today’s International Executive Board, at the 2017 World Conference in Washington DC, we closed out the 2014-17 Strategy.

It was a strategy that transformed IABC.

At the 2017 Annual General Meeting a talented group of leaders are set to step up and take for the next strategy: #IABC1720

The purpose of this post is to briefly:

  • Take stock, reflect, gain insights to move forward
  • Close loops, let go of what is no longer relevant
  • Acknowledge, appreciate, thank

As with any 46-year-old organisation, much work remains, yet our leaders around the world report that they have seen a step-change. And, as with any 46-year-old organisation, much that came before has been built on. We’re grateful to all who put their should to the wheel over the years.

Taking stock

Building on the best from our founding, we moved from an organisation that had friction and confusion into one ready to re-energize. Today at the AGM we’ll set out a rechartered mission to that effect.

In shorthand, these are the things that advances us to where we are today:
  • Clarity & alignment: roles and responsibilities.
  • Customer focus: strategic advisors.
  • Actionable insights: survey policy and personas ; key performance indicators clarified; annual portfolio review initiated; board-level chapter and region dashboard implemented – and groundwork for strategic funnel laid.
  • Bottom line results: back in black; technology updated; ready for the future.

Ready for #IABC1720

Lessons learnt? Almost uncountable. Painstakingly documented on this blog – some 100+ posts. Go ahead and explore. For example, there’s a whole section dedicated to insights articulated through Venns – and we even have paper airplanes with leadership advice from your peers. Because strategy work can otherwise be a bit dry.

Close loops

The board spent time reviewing what was good, and difficult – during the implementation of the 2014-17 strategy. It was an opportunity close loops, and discuss what needs to be done differently in the coming years.

Acknowledge, appreciate, thank

Thanks to the 2014-15, 2015-6 and 2016-17 boards who oversaw the development and implementation of the strategy.  And our hard working leaders in the field. The people who power chapters and regions around the world.

And our staff. Thank you all. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Here’s to the next chapter!

#IABC1720

Strategy summit – at the site of #IABC17

The IABC executive committee and our senior management team met in Washington D.C. at the Washington Hilton, which is set to host the 2017 World Conference – aka – #IABC17. A great location in a great neighborhood.

We met to define our business priorities for the coming board year. It was exciting to be in the room with so many people who are passionate about IABC’s success.

Carlos Fulcher
Carlos Fulcher
Stephanie Doute
Stephanie Doute
Ron Hansen
Ron Hansen
Natasha Nicholson
Natasha Nicholson
Brook Yciano
Brook Yciano
Kirsten Peterson
Kirsten Peterson

Our senior management team kicked the session off with presentations that showcased their ideas on how to move the association forward. I want to personally thank our outgoing Executive Director Carlos Fulcher, and our now Acting Executive Director Stephanie Doute – as well as Director of Professional Development Ron Hansen, Director of Content Natasha Nicholson, Director of Finance Brook Yciano and Governance Manager Kirsten Peterson for their contributions.

We were also joined by Jodie Slaughter, President and Founder of McKinley Advisors, the company that conducted our recent membership survey. She shared trends in membership associations, which was incredibly insightful. One key point – successful associations are exploring relevant Big Data to gain actionable insights.

As we move into the last year of the 2014-2017 strategy, it was a pleasure to mark many items off the list as completed! Thank you to all our 1,000+ leaders across the world for the hard work you have put in to make that happen. Read the latest annual report to learn more.

Moving forward for this board year, we established four key business objectives to continue our progress towards our established strategic goal of achieving financial sustainability and increasing our membership retention.

While we did make advances in each area this past year, there are still improvements that need to be made to reach our ultimate goals.

1. Retention: substantially enhance the existing plan, utilizing the information from the membership survey we conducted earlier this year.

2. Technology Strategic Plan: we made significant investments and improvements in our technology over the past two years, but we must continue to wisely invest to improve our member experience and customer service.

3. Strategic Communications Plan: continue to focus efforts on our external communications and reaching new audiences to generate increased awareness about IABC. Our Communications Committee is in place and working to advance the association and our profession.

4. Strategic Marketing Plan: IABC has a lot of great products and can add significant value to members of the professional communicators profession – however, we don’t do a good job of telling our story and getting our message heard, understood and acted upon.

As to the Strategic Marketing Plan, this is a combination of a couple of objectives from our previous list of business priorities – to focus on the success of our mature products and to engage with professional communicators who are not members – but it actually will provide a platform for making that happen. Utilizing the survey data, as well as the personas developed by the Membership Task Force, a comprehensive marketing plan will be developed to sell all of our products. Initially, it will focus on Academy offerings, but quickly scale up to include all of our offerings.

A senior staff member was assigned to each objective and milestone dates were set – and we’ll keep you posted on progress.

And I hope to see you at the Washington Hilton next year for #IABC17! Mark your calendar now: 11-14 June 2017.

Dianne Chase
2016-17 IABC Chair

P.S. Got a recommendation for the #IABC17 team on who should keynote? Share your suggestion here – and please help spread the word.

Commercial Thinking Critical to Creating Lasting Change

An interview with Clare Woodcraft – by Ginger Homan, ABC in connection with the 2016 IABC World Conference Foundation Panel on giving.

A world that doesn’t need foundations – that is the dream that drives Clare Woodcraft CEO of the Emirates Foundation.

Clare Woodcraft
Clare Woodcraft

“We are working to eradicate a problem, to create solutions that can be spun off into self-sufficient businesses,” says Clare. “That is how you get long-term solutions. We can deliver social value through our businesses and get to a place where we no longer need foundations.”

Under her leadership, Emirates Foundation has transformed from one that was a short-term grant giving organization to one that is focused on solving a social problem – permanently.

“The idea is to focus your efforts so that every dollar spent helps make true, systemic change,” said Clare. “Before we were giving to all sectors. It is very difficult to measure social impact, to determine what is working, what is not.”

Using the model of Venture Philanthropy, the Foundation conducted market research to understand the gaps in the market and then to determine how to fill them. Based in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, they explored the economic challenges of the country, along with the country’s goals and the underlying core strengths.

The research showed that by focusing on the youth of UAE, the Foundation could help create a sustainable future for the country.

Today the Foundation has six programs, all focused on inspiring, empowering and guiding youth to create a thriving nation.

“Even the approach to fundraising is different,” says Clare. “No longer are we going into a corporation and asking them for money to support our causes. Now we are bringing something of value to the table and asking them to partner with us for mutual benefit. We build a value proposition around their corporate objectives, showing our common goals and how we can create more social impact together. These are true partnerships — we are offering them a service, not just asking for money.”

Foundations experimented with variations on the classic grant-giving model for years, but as budgets got squeezed, philanthropists began blazing new trails in funding models designed to yield social impact, as well as a financial return on their investments. Clare has taken this model and created a foundation with programs that can solve the social issue, but also generate enough funding to ultimately be self-supportive.

“Our goal is to create programs that fix a social issue,” says Clare. “What do young people need? What does the market need? Can we create a product or service that closes the gap? Then we test solutions and find the right balance using business-based concepts. That doesn’t mean we are turning the philanthropic sector into a commercial entity,” she added. “What is means is that there is a call for philanthropic funds to be spent wisely and more systematically so that they create long-term change.”

“In today’s world, businesses can’t just focus on the bottom line. Millennials want companies that are focused on meeting a purpose beyond the profit. They want to be a part of a business that delivers not just to the shareholder, but the broader stakeholder base.”

At Emirates Foundation they measure results with solid metrics tied to each program – how many did they deliver services to, were services delivered cost effectively, were participants satisfied, was the issue solved?

“The mindset of the organization has changed,” says Clare. “We are much more entrepreneurial – more like a private sector company. We have great traction with our corporate partnerships and funding from the private sector too. They trust us to create value – and we are.”

The #IABC16 Bloq Squad – step up!

Here’s the official blog squad for the #IABC16 World Conference

Be sure to follow these intrepid international reporters – they will share their insights from key sessions – as 1,000 communicators from around the world convene in New Orleans.

Brad Gorman
Brad Gorman

Brad Gorman
United States

Communications & Engagement Manager at Whirlpool Corporation.

Follow @BradGorman

Claudia Vaccarone
Claudia Vaccarone

Claudia Vaccarone
France

Head of Market Research & Customer Experience at Eutelsat and also a member of the #IABCieb.

Follow @claudia_v_

Alain Legault
Alain Legault

Alain Legault
Canada

Directeur des communications, affaires publiques et relations gouvernementales at Cégep Edouard-Montpetit et son École nationale d’aérotechnique. Also #IABCieb. 

Follow @IcareMtl

Amy Miller

Amy Miller
United States 

Senior Customer Communication Specialist at LexisNexis, one of the leading providers of legal, government, business and high-tech information sources. 

Kristin Hancock
Kristin Hancock

Kristin Hancock
Canada

Manager Of Communications College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.

Follow @KristinAnneH

Christine Elmer
Christine Elmer

Christine Elmer
Australia

Director, Marketing and Community Relations Cabrini Health 

Step up and join the #IABC16 blog squad: be a conference reporter in three easy steps

  1. Write a brief (<500-word) story about a session you’re attending, drawing out key learning points and highlights – following the IABC Content Guidelines when developing the story.
  2. Tag with #IABC16 and post it on your preferred platform – for example: LinkedIn, Medium or your own blog.
  3. Share via your favourite social channels – again using the hashtag so others can find it and help spread the word.

Also, submit your best story of the day on IABC’s editorial contributions page. Filed stories will be reviewed for possible inclusion on wc.iabc.com – and may be featured in CW Observer, a blog-based supplement to IABC’s magazine, Communication World.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. Got Tone of Voice?

#FutureFitComms – the follow-up

Big thanks to conference producer Kirsty Brown who helped pull this together – and the IABC UK board (especially Casilda Malagon) for putting this event on. 


RESOURCES, ADVICE AND QUOTES

** If we’ve missed something above (or below), be sure to share it now using #FutureFitComms **

RESOURCES

Find more useful resources on this IABC Extreme Reading / Listening List as collated by your international peers.

ADVICE

At the heart of every good comms strategy…

  • Use of rigour and a systematic approach to answer – ‘on what basis do you know what you know?’
  • Communications sharpens the organisation’s mission. Make sure your comms strategy / plan is rigorously aligned to the leaders’ strategy.
  • Focus on business objectives or how communications makes the business more professional, rather than delivery.
  • Employ strategic planning that incorporates insights from staff on what think will work in their context.
  • Professional communicators are / should be trusted advisors. Claim your place!

IABC resources that can help you put the above into practice:

Organisations are about people…

  • Find your soul, humanise your brand.
  • Communicators humanise business.
  • Humanise it!
  • Good conversations with humans – “understanding the soul of the business. Trust and transparency are key.
  • Two-way conversations, through whatever channel it takes. Around the campfire analogy.
  • The growing importance and understanding of how our minds work and how we use that knowledge to improve our ability to understand and influence audiences.
  • Know yourself, know your customer. Required: self discipline!

Making it happen…

  • Know about filter bubbles leading to confirmation bias when reaching people.
  • Working out loud in a network #WOLAN.
  • Use visuals to make the complex simple.
  • Encouraging interactivity across cultures and technologies.
  • Integration of chatbots to interrogate engagement and social discussions.
  • Incentivise collaboration by remembering motivations: reputation; self satisfaction.
  • Don’t just protect a reputation, build a brand (the 3-some thing!)

IABC resources that can help you put the all of the above into practice:

  • Tap into your peers at IABC – attend local and global events (we hope to see you at #IABC16 too!).
  • Consider mentoring or apply to become a mentee – learn more here.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“The future of the future will still contain the past” – Everything But The Girl

PROPOSED NEXT STEPS

  1. Follow the speakers to stay tuned to what they’re up to next.
  2. Share this with a communicator who couldn’t make it but who might find it useful… and if you’re not already an IABCer, why not join now.

Big thanks to all who contributed in-person – and virtually.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

 

 

Future fit communications: Connecting trends, strategies and actions

Never has seeing the bigger picture been so important for communications practitioners. This IABC conference is all about connecting you with the ideas, people and impetus that can help you make a difference back in the business – both immediately and in the long term.

Come and join the debate.

EVENT OVERVIEW

Running on the afternoon of Monday, 16 May 2016, the agenda will be split into four key parts and chaired by Michael Ambjorn, International Chair of IABC.

PART 1: What’s the big idea?

A look at current and emerging societal, technology and economic trends that will have an impact on our lives and businesses over the coming years. Our speakers for this section:

Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd

PART 2: So what if?

A quickfire #Rapido session with 5 speakers each taking 5 minutes (and not a second longer) to share their thoughts on what’s hot, and what’s not, in the future of corporate communications. Curated by the incomparable Ezri Carlebach. Our speakers for this section:

Una O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG
Darren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University
Gay Flashman, Founder & CEO, Formative Content
Lesley Crook, Client Advisor, Enterprise Strategies
Susan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

PART 3: From talk to walk – what do the big ideas mean to your business?

Michael Ambjorn will lead a reflection on the earlier #Rapido session and a panel-audience discussion of the role communications professionals play in making their organisations future-fit. Our panelists:

Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd
Ashish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services
Joanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas
Keith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

PART 4: What next?

A group sharing of key learnings, next-step resources, shared objectives and individual action plans. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and transform the big ideas into a plan that works for you. After the event we will curate and share all of these outputs.

TICKETS AND BOOKING

Book one of the last remaining seats now

The IABC is a not-for-profit organisation. Proceeds from ticket sales will be used to cover the cost of running the event and invested back into future IABC member initiatives.

ABOUT IABC UK

IABC UK is the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators – the global organisation for people working in business communications. It offers members a global forum to develop professional skills, share knowledge of and develop best practice in communications and to discuss important issues affecting the profession.

PARTNERS

Future Fit Communications is supported by Scarlett Abbott, PitchPack andCommunicate magazine.

Leadership Institute Main Session: A Rapido Recap

Time has flown since the 2016 Leadership Institute.

Here’s a quick recap of the blog posts:

…and here’s a rapido recap specifically of the main points and Q&A from the opening session – enjoy!:

2016 Leadership Institute Main Session: A Rapido Recap on Vimeo.

+ see lots and lots of pictures on Flickr.

Let’s #createconnection – like never before.

Michael Ambjorn
@michaelambjorn

 

#IABCLI leadership advice from your peers

Paper airplanes…

Take flight: some great concise advice from your peers.

Have a flick through – then share…

Reflective blogs…

If you’re looking for something slightly longer-form, then here are some great reflective blog posts from leaders who attended – do help spread the word:

Want to absorb more of that energy?

Check out the official photography: flic.kr/iabchq

2016 Leadership Institute

2016 Chapter Management Awards

and the winners are.

There are lots more pictures on Instagram and Facebook… just search for #IABCLI – and be sure to add the hashtag if you’re uploading your own.

Let’s #createconnection – like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. If I’ve missed your #IABCLI post, tweet me @michaelambjorn and I’ll add it here.

Using Appreciative Inquiry to grow as a leader

A subset of the 140+ leaders attending the 2016 IABC Leadership Institute got together to explore the power of Appreciative Inquiry – and how it can help you grow as a leader.

_MG_4490

Organizations are created, maintained and changed by conversations. It is how connection is created.

In this session we explored how you can use a tool like Appreciative Inquiry to identify opportunities for change, how to mobilize leaders – and maintain shared momentum. 

Here, below, is the hand-out – including a word cloud (slide 2) which you’ll see more about on this blog in coming weeks.

Also, keep an eye on the IABC Leader Centre for hand-outs from all the other breakouts.

Top tweets

It was a wide-ranging discussion – and it is not too late to add your appreciation for some of the key points-turned-into-tweets – by RT/liking below:

Thanks to all who contributed.

Let’s #createconnection – like never before.

Michael Ambjorn