The cars are fast, the parties are lavish, and the atmosphere is electric; one would expect nothing less from Grand Prix weekend in Montreal. What was unexpected from my recent trip to help with service logistics at Mural Festival during Grand Prix was the unbelievable leadership development opportunity that is events.
In his HBR bestseller, “What Makes a Leader?” Daniel Goleman makes the case that emotional intelligence skills critical to leadership are partially inherent, and partially learned. For young leaders looking to gain key skills and experience, working or volunteering with events can impact your leadership in many important ways:
Communication is crucial
For a leader to be effective they must be a superb communicator. In the context of events, communication is interwoven into everything you do; from persuading sponsors, listening to regulators, delivering crystal-clear instructions, and maintaining body language when dealing with clients. Events not only offer excellent opportunities to practice your communication, but events offer instant feedback on how effective you are as a communicator. Feedback comes in form of repeat questions from team members, operational hurdles, and dialogue with participants.
You learn the importance of remaining calm
Events can be stressful… – No matter how much you plan you can always count on something changing. How you deal with problems that arise not only affects you but also the team with whom you work. Events give young leaders a great opportunity to practice remaining calm in the face of adversity or to learn what happens when they allow their emotions to get the better of them. Experience dealing with high stress situations helps develop the ever-important self-regulation that is necessary to be a great leader.
Your team has your back
This is something I love about events, you can always count on someone going the extra mile to help. Be it a volunteer, a superior, a sponsor, or an artist you can directly see the benefit of empowering the people around you. At Mural I was blown away by the effort everyone on the team put in, and how they autonomously made decisions which helped the entire operation run smoothly.
People look to you for solutions
For many, coordinating an event can be the first time they are in an official leadership role; learning how to handle the new responsibility gracefully will do wonders for your development. Furthermore, regardless of the position you hold, it is almost guaranteed that someone will ask you for help. Every problem you face offers an opportunity to hone your social skills, empathy and self-awareness.
You will surprise yourself
You will never know until you try! For many people the idea of being a leader induces nerves and doubts. The only way to shake that feeling is to jump in head first and go for it. Events can be the perfect proving ground and you are sure to learn something about yourself you never knew.
With this I implore you to think about the small opportunities that present themselves for you to develop as a person and as a leader; events could be a great avenue to take your leadership to the next level!