May 01, 2001
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May 2001 Current Issue
May 2001 Your CareerPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

Your Career

BY Randy G. Pennington


Timeless principles to help meetings managers weather the current economic slump

Are you nervous about the economy? Many people are, and a reactionary response has been a resumption of the mass layoffs that marked the early 1990s. So much for those recruiting statements about caring for people.

Cutting budgets especially in areas that do not directly contribute to a company’s bottom-line is another knee-jerk response to lean economic times. Meet-ing planning departments are once again appearing on the radar screen as easy targets for potential organizational savings.

You cannot always influence the actions of CEOs, but you can ensure that you and your team have the best possible chance to weather the current storm. The following tenets of effective leadership offer practical advice as well as inspiration.

Everything is connected. Success depends on our ability to create interdependent partnerships where everyone takes responsibility for positive results.

The leaders who succeed understand the magnitude and simplicity of our connections. A layoff to lower costs also lowers confidence and has a ripple effect through the entire economy. A decision to move away from a trusted supplier based solely on price considerations has an equally damaging effect. Every decision you make is connected, and the partnerships that are destroyed today might be critical in the future.

It is who you know. We compete with three tools: products, services and relationships. Delivering a good product and good service no longer guarantees success in the marketplace. Relationships make the difference.

Successful relationships require commitment, time and hard work. It is a truth that can be observed in long-term personal relationships and in the way successful organizations relate to their customers, suppliers and employees. Reduced communication is often the first symptom of a troubled personal relationship. The same applies to relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and stakeholders. Now is the time to invest more in building the relationships that will carry you through tough times.

Integrity matters. Management expert W. Edwards Deming said, “Without trust, there can be no cooperation between people, teams, departments, divisions. Without trust, each component will protect its own immediate interests, to its long-term detriment and to the detriment of the entire system.” If people don’t trust you, they will look out for themselves even when it hurts them in the long run. You need others to look beyond their self-interests to the interests of the enterprise. Tell the truth, and deliver on commitments. Everyone is watching.

Everyone leads. Leadership is a matter of performance, not position. Leaders are those who help us move from where we are to where we need to be. You can encourage leadership by giving people more control over their own success. Begin with ensuring that everyone understands the mission and vision of each project. Next, give them the knowledge and skills to do their jobs. Let them know the boundaries, and give them the freedom to fail in pursuit of the organization’s success. Growing leaders is the best way to leverage your commitment to ongoing success.

Create momentum in your department through vision. A compelling vision generates enthusiasm and creates opportunities for ownership. The creative tension that results from comparing where you are to where you want to be drives the recognition and motivation for positive change.

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