It’s been a while since I’ve dusted off the ole event management hat. However, when our long-time client, Moodys Gartner Tax Law, shared their vision of hosting a fundraising event, I quickly ran to my tickle trunk. Fast forward to a year later, when all the hours of planning, preparation and, well, more planning became the fabric of an unforgettable evening.
“An Intimate Evening with Sarah McLachlan” took place May 14 at Theatre Junction Grand and was a big success, supporting the Project Warmth Society of Alberta – a local not-for-profit that helps the homeless and underprivileged. From the event’s conception to day-of management, our team worked closely with the leadership team at Moodys Gartner to fulfill their vision: a memorable evening of philanthropy and fun.
Planning an event of this scale requires a lot of time, effort, collaboration, and even a bit of luck. I’ve since reflected on the process and the event itself, and an interesting correlation began to appear between managing an event and leadership. I witnessed leaders emerge on our Forward Level team as a result of the event, so I decided to broach the topic with them to get their thoughts on the types of characteristics and skills a good leader displays. After some conversations, these are three insights our team came away with:
Develop and support a vision
From our original meeting with Moodys Gartner, the event goal was clear: to create a memorable evening of philanthropy and fun. This became our true north when making planning decisions for the event, including everything from the selecting the type of entertainment down to the furniture and lighting.
An effective leader defines the company’s vision, clearly communicates that vision to the team, and provides the necessary support to achieve that vision. Successful companies have a vision that resonates with their team, clients, and external audiences. At Forward Level, we like to call it your ‘Purpose’ – the reason your company exists.
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
When it comes to events, there will always be unforeseen challenges and last minute changes that arise, regardless of how well-organized you are. Being adaptable and solution-focused is critical to ensuring the event unfolds successfully.
A prerequisite for leadership is to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. When operations are running smoothly, a leader quietly leads from behind, supporting the team on the front line. However, when situations don’t go as planned, leaders often bear the burden. When all eyes turn to them, expecting their steady hand to steer the ship, it’s time to embrace these high-pressure moments as fuel.
Responsibility to create and cultivate leaders
From developing the event strategy, to branding and organizing the logistics of every detail, events involve a lot of moving parts and the tasks build up quickly, making it extremely difficult to manage alone. You need to assemble a great, cooperative team with diverse skill sets who are assigned leadership roles in their area of expertise. Come event day, they will own their respective areas and deliver beyond expectations.
As a leader, you are responsible for creating and cultivating other leaders within your company. In order to do so, three very important realizations must occur: 1) accepting you can’t do it alone, 2) letting go, and 3) trusting your team. When one or all of these components are absent, it can lead to that ugly term… you know the one: micro-management (I almost couldn’t finish writing it). Rather, focus on this said mindset to attract top talent who embrace accountability, work hard to gain your trust, and work even harder to keep it.
Both leadership and event management can be challenging and each role requires a particularly high-level of awareness. There certainly are more similarities between the two in addition to the insights shared in this blog. I encourage you to continue the conversation and share your thoughts on whichever platform this blog may reach you in – what does it mean to you to be an effective leader?