Times of crisis and challenges are what truly define a leader. As we have all faced the unpredictable challenges of the last year, we've come to learn more about ourselves and who we want to be as leaders. Turbulent times push us out of our comfort zone and force us to challenge our assumptions, but we can end up better off in the long run if we put in the work.
Each fall, NESPA puts in the work when we gather for our annual Congress of Committees and develop plans for the coming year. Not only do we look ahead, but we spend time looking back at the accomplishes and challenges we've faced so we can take lessons learned and apply them to our future goals.
At this year's Congress, we took time to consider who were are as leaders. Being a good leader is never easy but leading your team through a crisis is one of the most significant challenges we face as professionals. When I think about who I want to be as a leader, both in my business and at NESPA, I follow a few fundamental principles.
Trust. Teams work best when they are working together towards a common (agreed to) goal. Getting staff to focus in the same direction requires trust. We create trust when we are honest and transparent with our teams. That is never more important than when in difficult times or times of uncertainty.
Culture of Calm. Chaos left unchecked results in more chaos and confusion. It's human nature that when we feel like we aren't getting the full story, we try to fill in the blanks ourselves. Our imagination will typically go to the worst possible outcome. During times of crisis, many things will be out of our control. That was never more true than in 2020! What we can control is the tone of our team and the culture we build. Some conversions may be challenging, but an open and honest dialogue will serve you much better than whispers behind closed doors.
Preparation. I don't think any of us can say we were prepared for this year. When I think back to last October when NESPA came together for our 2019 Congress, I know not one committee that met had "how to deal with a global pandemic" on their agendas. But I see the work and strategic planning we did last year were crucial to NESPA successfully navigating the last ten months' challenges. A thoughtful, consistent review of where you've been and where you want to go will never be in vain. And if you've established trust and a strong culture, your team will be ready to follow you!
At NESPA, our strategic focus is a year-round commitment. For over 60-years, we've had leaders that have exemplified the leadership skills above, and that is why we are in the strong position we are in today. And we could use your help! We invite all of our members to impact the association and the industry by volunteering to be on a committee, task-force, or project that interests you. The more we work together, the brighter our future will be. To find out how you can get more involved, contact NESPA at 609.689.9111 or email Taylor Griffith, our Membership Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy M. Rullo