Behind the Scenes: Guiding Principals

Why we call PCMA’s annual Meeting 'Convening Leaders'

Author: Michelle Russell       

Michelle Russell

It’s a wrap. As I write this, PCMA Convening Leaders 2017 (CL) just successfully concluded in Austin, and our work at Convene is just beginning. In the months to come, we’ll be poring over session videos taken during three days of programming, and strategizing about story ideas that came out of conversations for future content—in other words, planting the cuttings from CL in fresh soil where they can take root and grow over the next year.

A gardening metaphor in the dead of winter makes me feel hopeful — the word I think that best describes the mood at our event last month. We all seem cautiously optimistic about the growth of face-to-face events this coming year, and it feels like we’re making progress in promoting the important work of event organizers. It’s not themed Convening Leaders because we market only to the C-suite, but because we believe everyone can take a leadership role when it comes to planning and executing a business event.

Let’s face it: There’s no lack of man-agers, supervisors, and bosses. Many organizations are fortunate to have visionaries with smart ideas about their future growth. But that doesn’t automatically make them leaders.

In fact, the best examples of leadership are often not found at the top. And as more organizations become less hierarchical and flatter in structure, leadership is less about managing—and more about relating to — others. Having a sense of humility, behaving with integrity, accepting responsibility for decisions you make, both good and bad, caring more about people than appearances, empowering others over asserting authority, taking initiative—to me, these are essential qualities of leadership.

It’s a more aspirational approach to our work, regardless of title or status. And it echoes how Randy Tanaka encouraged event professionals to think about their roles when he shared during a Convening Leaders session last month what he learned as the president and CEO of the host committee of the world’s largest conservation congress.

Responsible for bringing more than 10,000 people from nearly every country on Earth to Hawaii last September to discuss the world’s most pressing challenges, from climate change to eradicating disease, Randy thinks that event organizers can have a more positive impact on the world, regardless of the industry they serve. He urged his CL audience to view their events through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which address 17 areas, including poverty, hunger, responsible consumption, job creation, and innovation.

These goals are so well aligned with the nature of the meetings industry that taking the next step to more intentionally bring one or several of them into sharp focus at your event seems only logical. That, as Randy suggested, is when you’re thinking like a leader.



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