Event Recap: Senior Pros Talk Leadership

On September 19, 2017, PRSA NJ’s Senior Pros came together for a leadership panel at Johnson & Johnson, featuring: Danielle Devine, Global Leader, Enterprise Strategy & Communication, Johnson & Johnson; Bret Werner, President, MWWPR; and Ken Jacobs, Principal, Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching (and PRSA NJ Senior Pros Co-Chair). This panel of experts, guided by our always wonderful moderator, Board Member Jon Goldberg, shared their insights on how to be a more effective leader. Couldn’t be there in person? Not to worry. PRSA NJ’s very own Ken Hunter has your recap!

The panel kicked off with a discussion about the best way to approach change within a team or an organization. Danielle highlighted the importance of using data when possible, to make the case for dropping stale programs or “legacy” campaigns that aren’t effective. All panelists agreed that strong leaders need to establish a clear vision about what’s to come, and work collaboratively and flexibly with each member of the team to ensure they’re on board.

Danielle also discussed her “fail fast” philosophy, encouraging teammates to be open and honest about if/where something isn’t doing well in order to more quickly and effectively course-correct. This can include looking outside your team for counsel when necessary, whether it’s from an agency, contractor, vendor, or even a group of mentors or other professionals whose opinions you respect.

Picking up on a similar theme, Bret acknowledged that it’s important to acknowledge and learn from failure – without dwelling on it. Smart leaders have “amnesia” when it comes to dwelling on failures; they identify it quickly, break it down, discuss it, determine where the changes need to be made, then move on. He also reinforced that strong leaders must be self-aware about their strengths and weakness, and be open to learning from their colleagues to build their knowledge of the less familiar areas.

Ken discussed the need to be the kind of leader who has the backs of your followers/ teams. Earning their trust takes time, and is well worth it. And you can lose it in a heartbeat. Strong leaders can play a key role in guiding their teams through mistakes or unfamiliar situations, and should allow them the room to grow and learn from mistakes.

All panelists engaged in a lively discussion about millennials in the workplace, a key theme for senior pros. As Ken noted, millennials/Gen Y are the largest and fastest-growing part of the labor pool – they are our teams, and are also increasingly growing into positions of management and leadership. This is a great opportunity for senior leaders to work with them to help them cultivate their own leadership styles, enabling them to be more effective with their own teams and clients.

Stay tuned for details about the next Senior Pros panel, coming soon!

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