For Better Results, PR Leaders May Need to Adopt a Rookie Mindset

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Christine M. Courard

The transformation and adaptability themes continued through day two of the International Association of Business Communicators’ (IABC) annual conference. A keynote address on Monday afternoon included a romp through the (admittedly scary) advantages of coming to challenges without experience.

Leadership researcher and author Liz Wiseman brought conference-goers along on her journey through jobs she felt neither prepared nor qualified for, and helped communication pros understand how leading and communicating from a position of inquiry allows rookies to deliver better results, faster than expert peers.

With ever-shorter timelines, today’s communicators are familiar with the panicky dread of “not knowing.” But ignorance is an untapped asset for Wiseman. One expert might dispose of a challenge with confidence. Rookies, by recognizing that they need help and  guidance, immediately bring multiple experts to bear on the same challenge and increase the likelihood of rapid, successful resolution.

This same principle can guide leaders to energize and maximize the effectiveness of teams. Wiseman’s presentation focused on how leaders with a rookie mindset—who pose questions of their teams, who create a space for each employee to exercise their unique talents in pursuit of business goals—become “multipliers” that increase the impact of individuals they work with.

These themes were carried on during Tuesday morning’s session with SAP CEO Bill McDermott. He emphasized the critical need for leaders and communicators to adapt to the specifics of each situation and every audience.

Through compelling anecdotes and entertaining storytelling from his professional career, McDermott illustrated how powerful leaders weave authenticity and brevity to inspire. The mission for today’s communicators is to remain open to the needs of the audiences waiting for you.

Christine M. Courard is director of communications at Lockheed Martin.

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