Thursday, November 18, 2010

Event Leadership

Special Events: events for a new world by Dr. Joe Goldblatt (Sixth Edition) recently came across my desk for review. While the specific review was related to the new chapter on green meetings, I was inclined to start from the beginning, and boom, there it was, right at the beginning, what is this profession we call the event industry... defined.

Event leadership is defined as "a profession that requires public assembly for the purpose of celebration, education, marketing and reunion."

If we consider the characteristics that those who determine certifications and designations and how they qualify a specific job as a profession, we can assess if this applies.
  1. The profession must have a unique body of knowledge.
  2. The profession typically has voluntary standards that often result in certification. 
  3. The profession has an accepted code of conduct or ethics.
Based on the above, and due to the great work of multiple organizations committed to the professionalism of this industry, we can indeed say it is a true profession. When we really consider our industry, no matter what avenue followed, from meeting planning to event production, incentive house, destination management, festivals, trade show and exhibition management, wedding planning, sponsorshp, fundraising, and the many specialized vendor partners we rely on, it is one that requires immense cooperation, and a great body of knowledge to be successful.

We have a number of designations available through a number of certifying bodies, and there are a plethora of certificates, diplomas and degrees, including masters, available around the world in institutions both private and public.  The interesting thing though, is that unlike other professions (law, architecture, engineering as examples that also fit the above criteria), our greatest challenge has been that to enter the event industry, you don't need to have any particular piece of paper or specific qualifications to enter. The only real barrier to entry is your self.

To be successful, a start is to have knowledge about the basic structure of the type of event you want to be part of. Then, to be solution oriented,  creative, forward thinking, strategic, a great communicator, and to have passion for an industry that requires intense collaboration, and often involves intense competition, are the next skills to develop.

This then becomes the base, (and tools like this textbook are meant to provide a basis for) is event leadership. When you take your skills and atributes, and combine this with that next layer, the ability to inspire and lead a team of people to be successful event after event, you begin to be a leader.  Eventually, leaders will create a culture and establish a vision for success that spans a variety of industry sectors, and to inspire a team - internal and partners - to truly be engaged and empowered to bring their unique skills as you work together to bring brands to life in unique settings, and to create environments that engage and deliver emotional connections that drive ROI.

I love seeing the students, the novices, and the newbies as they are so enthusiastic, and their desire to learn and grow continues to inspire me!  As we see the more experienced professionals continue to do this amazing work and to see the ideas that are generated and then brought to life is awesome.  To watch our industry work so hard with initiatives ike the Event Camp series, and knowing so many talented, committed people who work across the spectrum understand the need to deliver messages that will stick and are discovering better ways to do this and finding clients that "get that we get it" - while the economy is providing its challenges, the desire to use our skills to make the world a better meeting place remains great!

What do you think makes a great event leader?


  1. Great post - I am in Ontario, Canada
    I believe a great event leader is someone that is organized, can lead others and make sure they are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be, and loves people. The type of event mgt that one goes into should relate to interests and experience will be helpful, such as fundraising. I have found however, that experience may deter the fresh new ideas, that people without experience in that field will come up with.

    Question: How do you become an Event Manager or DMC? Sounds thrilling and in Vancouver must be very exciting!

  2. Darleen, sounds like you have some interesting experience to draw from! Vancouver is great - like all of the industry though, it is still recovering from the many hits that came our way it is fun though!