President’s Column – February 2017

by Megan Patterson, IABC/Tulsa President

MeganLewisWhen a crisis occurs, who do you call? For me, even now, my go-to is still my mother. Now granted, that’s in my personal life. If I called mom with a work-related crisis situation, we’d have an issue. But whether personal or work-related, we know all too well that “stuff” happens.

The silver lining is that through crisis situations, leaders often emerge – sometimes likely candidates, sometimes unexpected. These people help guide the situation, lend stability and steer an organization in the right direction.

In last month’s professional development meeting, Joe Williams talked a lot about leadership – what it means to him and what it takes to enact change. Many of the stories he shared resonated with me, but two leadership-related quotes in particular have stuck (full disclosure here that I’m paraphrasing these).

On leadership, Joe’s definition gets to the point. He says, “A leader is someone who can move people’s feet.” How true is that? You don’t have to be the CEO of an organization or even a manager of people to be a change-maker. All a leader really needs is the ability to influence.

In a different story, Joe described another man’s thoughts on sailing. The man said the reason he sails is because he “loves being surrounded by water and having complete control of a boat, moving it forward, in an environment that he has no control over.” I keep going back to this and can’t help thinking how closely this resembles our lives as communicators. I have to admit though; I don’t always feel like I have complete control of the ship. The point is, no matter the external factors, we can still control the message, control our delivery and lead others to do the same.

Join us next week, as we learn more about crisis communication planning from Deb Hileman, president and CEO of the Institute for Crisis Management. We’ll learn how to plan and prepare for potential crisis situations and how to lead an organization during and after a crisis. And if all else fails, just call my mom.