Stepping into a leadership role is both challenging and exciting. If you’re a PR professional who just got promoted, congratulations!
Or if you’re someone who wants to be a key leader one day, congrats on your ambition! Many PR pros, especially at the entry level, may believe they need a promotion or permission to act like a leader. But please recognize that everything you do is leading by example, and you can hone how you use this power with every decision.
Moving into a leadership role can be a big challenge, but there are a few key steps you can take that can help you succeed. Shift gears into a leadership mindset by following the three tips below.
1. Practice servant leadership
At Dittoe PR, we each operate under the Servant Leader paradigm. No matter your role or title, this leadership style ensures our team is operating at its highest level and with the best interest of all in mind. We ask that our team members work toward embodying the characteristics of a Servant Leader every day – in and out of Dittoe PR’s office – while avoiding traits associated with patronizing or egocentric leaders.
Being a servant leader means putting the needs and well-being of others before your own. It is a leadership philosophy that prioritizes serving others, whether they are team members, clients or external community members. As a servant leader, you seek to understand and empower those you lead, providing guidance and support while setting a positive example through your actions and decisions.
This style of leadership results in a more engaged and motivated team and a more fulfilling and meaningful experience for the leader. The 10 key attributes of servant leaders are:
- Listener – Really listen to your team – verbal and body language.
- Empathy – See the world through the eyes of someone else. Get outside of yourself.
- Health – Support team members physically, mentally and emotionally.
- Self-Awareness – See your own emotions and behaviors and how they affect others.
- Persuasion – Know how to get others involved and on board with the vision.
- Conceptualization – See the bigger picture of the organization.
- Foresight – Look beyond the day-to-day, tap into past experience, and plan for the future.
- Stewardship – What you expect from others, you model first. Be accountable. Lead by example.
- Commitment – Help your teammates reach their potential professionally and personally.
- Community – Build a great team with strong culture and high spirit.
By putting the needs of others first, servant leaders create a culture of trust, collaboration and growth. Even as an introverted leader, consider your introspective and supportive strengths and how to leverage them in the workplace.
2. Seek mentorship
Finding a mentor can be incredibly valuable in helping you succeed as a growing pro. They can offer advice on how to handle difficult situations, help you develop new skills, and provide insights into the industry that come from their years of experience. Additionally, a mentor can help you connect with others in the industry, which may open up new opportunities for your career and even your organization or clients in the future.
Make yourself available to share your experience with a mentee of your own. You have an opportunity to truly give back by sharing what you’ve learned with someone earlier in their career and really pour into them. Plus, mentorship is a reciprocal relationship where both of you benefit.
By setting clear goals and expectations, both the mentor and mentee can ensure that they are getting the most out of the relationship and that they are able to help each other grow and succeed in their careers. You can work with them to:
- Set your own goals for professional development and thought leadership.
- Share your career ambitions.
- Bounce ideas off of one another. Your younger mentee can bring fresh ideas and new perspectives.
- Brainstorm ways to manage internal and external conflict, such as how you address it and respond to it.
- Talk about what it means to coach and how to give and receive positive or negative feedback effectively.
3. Find balance
Any PR pro knows that sometimes your role requires a fast pace and can bleed outside of a 9-5. You may think you stop “doing” when you become a manager or a director, but in reality, the role just becomes more complex. We’re expected to manage, lead and do.
Delegating as a new leader is a crucial aspect of effective management. It allows you to focus on your own areas of expertise, such as national media relations or crisis communications strategy work. This helps you avoid burnout and also provides an opportunity for team members to “step up” and take on new challenges, which helps them develop new skills. It also gives you more time to think proactively and strategically about upcoming campaigns and identify potential challenges.
One way to help with this is by setting clear boundaries in the form of roles and responsibilities and project management. You are not a vending machine for answers; rather, as a leader, you must delegate, direct and prioritize assignments. Provide solid support and resources and encourage them to ask for help when needed. Then, trust your team to complete the work to the best of their ability.
How you handle this transition can impact how your team views you and your path as a leader moving forward. You may feel imposter syndrome set in, making you a little insecure and unconfident in your ability to lead. But remember: You were chosen for this role for a reason.
Dittoe PR routinely seeks public relations and social media interns and team members. Check out our blog for our latest hiring call-outs and consider applying.