Seating on the IABC EMENA Region Board for two years and feeling part of the IABC family, I am very grateful I attended the returning EuroComm18 conference in Copenhagen on 9 and 10 April, a must attend platform for business communicators. After two-days of learnings, fruitful exchange and networking with the IABC community and other communications peers, I feel refreshed and ready to bring back to my team and agency some of the key-insights.
Upon arrival, on Sunday, I had the honour to proctor the Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) exam. I was pleased that both test takers passed, and the SCMP is a communications certification I would envisage taking in the near future.
The surrounding could not have been better chosen for inspiration; the event was hosted at the historical University of Copenhagen, a majestic building that holds the oldest house of the city.
On day one IABC EMENA Chair Alex Malouf, IABC Global Vice-Chair Ginger Homan, and our local partner, K1, opened the conference. They were followed by engaging keynote presentations carried out in the main room. Participants then joined the breakout sessions or workshop of their interest, which were running in parallel in three streams. Aligned with the theme of the conference, “Participation, Communications and Technology”, a diverse mix of international speakers presented their views and findings on different topics: from internal communications, leadership and strategy, employee engagement, change management, public relations and networking, crisis communications to digital marketing and emerging technologies.
Day two focused on change management session, facilitation techniques and introduced the open space format, a participatory forum where delegates are invited to present a question to debate among other interested participants in an informal and open way.
I would like to focus my attention on two practical hands-on sessions that caught my attention.
Firstly, the very interesting and insightful workshop, “Bushcraft for communicators: prospering in the new world of work”, led by two great communication consultants, Mike Pounsford and Stephen Welch. I went there with a blank mind and no particular expectations. After a structured session that lasted two hours, I came out of the room with a clear sense of responsibility, purpose and alignment. The facilitators triggered the participant’s attention to take hands-on action and reflect on their personal journey as communicators in a creative way. We were asked to draw and share our vision of how we see our personal and professional life evolving in a few years’, taking also into account time, social, technological and political or economic factors that might impact and influence our lives. An exercise that personally helped me to explore, visualize, verbalize and plan a realistic and sustainable concrete road map and to set the ground to build trust and long-lasting relationship with my circles and stakeholders.
The key learning from this workshop is “focus on the outcome, not the process”. Everyone has different backgrounds and can use a different path to reach the desired outcome. There is no single solution or path, so let your team deviate from a set of processes and give them a new perspective on change. To sum up, everyone’s change journey is different so you need to focus on results not processes.
I would highly recommend this workshop to any company going through change culture or which willing to build sound staff engagement programme.
Secondly, by joining the ‘Open Space’ (unconference format) led by Ian Andersen and Mike Klein for the first time and facilitating an open discussion among a small group of communicators on a topic that is of interest to me: “New leadership models in the digital era”. I started the discussion by focusing on leadership models I’ve seen throughout my professional experience, shared where I stand now being a team leader of a public affairs department of an EU Agency, raised questions on how to inspire, create trust and grow your team and opened up the discussion around leadership to all people siting on the table.
What makes you a good leader in the digital era? Some of the key learnings I take away from this session are:
• Follow your own leadership style, the one that works for you or in other words be who you are, loss-control, be authentic and able to adapt to new situational leadership.
• Learn first to lead yourself, harness technology as tool to break old leadership paradigms and to help drive successful and innovative communications.
• Encourage other leaders around you to be ambassadors.
• Promote values, vision, integrity and ethics.
• Who should you get involved? Your followers, influencers, opinion leaders, stakeholders, management.
• Lead and breathe your own purpose.
We closed the discussion by summarizing a common idea in a Tweet: “leaders today show people we are going together and get out of the way #OpenSpace #EuroComm18”.
Moreover, I brought back with me a new book that I am currently reading, “The Attention Switch”, by Itzik Amiel. The book introduces an interesting concept and helps to understand how to give Authentic and Active Attention to the people or things that you decide to interact with while focusing on bringing positive value and meaning to the connections you’ve build in the past or new ones throughout your journey. I am also curious to read the upcoming book that Sheila Parry announced at EuroComm and learn more about her Pride model: Purpose, Reputation, Integrity, Direction, Energy she.
Last but not least, I would like to give a special thanks to the EMENA Region Board for their time, hard work and for sharing a common interest, volunteering for IABC, allowing this unique event to happen and helping to upgrade the standards of our changing communications profession. Looking forward to continue the conversation online and to plan and join next year’s EuroComm!