• Alan

Leadership in PR is more important than ever


Leadership is the foundation to the success, reputation, and future of nations, organisations, and professions. However, in all industries effective leadership can feel elusive and defining leadership can be open to interpretation, diminishing it as a powerful positive force to be accessed and then used.


PR professionals work to tight deadlines, juggling multiple projects at any given time. Leading multiple projects effectively is complex and a critical success factor rests on how well we engage and understand our client’s world, and how well we then help ourselves and our clients to deliver on project commitments.


Leadership becomes just as much about self-leadership, developing ourselves, our behaviours, and our skills to optimally understand and support our clients, and our teams.


So, what makes you a great leader?


A good place to start is getting really clear on vision and purpose.


This can be at a company existential position (reason for being in the world) or at the level of a specific project. In our experience vision and purpose are an underutilised phenomenon and, in a PR, context are everything in helping us to really understand our clients and how we can communicate our client’s products and services brilliantly to their chosen market.


A second critical element of great leadership is our ability to adopt a “helicopter” style. In our industry of PR, we think there is a temptation for those at the top levels to distance themselves off from the day to day implementation for clients – focusing predominantly on strategic and higher concepts, as well as bringing in new business. Whilst those are an essential parts of PR leadership, choosing to “helicopter” down and understand, and at times being involved in  everyday delivery as well as strategy, has a positive impact, to our client-satisfaction, our project performance (and thus our ongoing reputation) and our effectiveness in developing our own teams.


Developing leadership habits that connect frequently with our (and our clients) vision and purpose, and that develop a helicopter skill set in our (and our clients) business really does maximise our effectiveness as PR leaders.


Creating great results for our clients, active learning on every project and developing our teams are the prizes that await!


Daniel Goleman, one of the worlds leading experts on leadership, describes leadership as having 6 styles: Authoritative, Visionary, Pacesetting, Coaching, Affiliative and Democratic.


And whilst this is an interpretation of leadership, these 6 styles bring an opportunity to understand and create a bespoke style for our own leadership, a style that we can adopt to any circumstance, situation, or project that we are leading.


We see all 6 leadership styles as being valuable in our role as PR leaders. Developing our Visionary and Coaching styles as a priority will help us in our effectiveness to create, understand and communicate vision and purpose, developing our helicopter skill set, understanding the needs of our clients, and developing our own teams.


Coaching predominantly focuses on growing the human being. One of its foundation beliefs is that people are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole, that we have what we need to be successful available to us.

"Coaching is about unleashing human performance from within, helping people to connect with and then remove what is holding them back as well as helping them to connect with what is truly possible, and then acting to realise these possibilities”

Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and an adaptable, bespoke style does bring many benefits. Great leaders will always be the same human being, but like great sportspersons who can change their game plan to suit the conditions and their opponents, an enlightened leader will do exactly the same.


For more about public relations, my co-author Ruby Edwards and You Do Better PR & communications Agency, go to: www.youdobetter.co.uk.

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