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Firstly a big congratulations to IABC Gold Quill Winners: Paula Hurley, Medibank, Danielle Bond, Aurecon, Dene Cicci, Medibank and Troy Hunter of Telstra, on your outstanding effort in this years Gold Quill Awards. It is fantastic so see our local talent recognised in this way on a global playing field.

As I write this month’s letter I am preparing to leave for the IABC World Conference in New York to hear incredible speakers, build relationships with our global leaders and attend the IABC AGM on behalf of you our IABC Vic members.

I am thrilled that not only two of my fellow Board members will also be attending, and one even speaking at the conference, but that three of our four gold quill winners will be attending in person to collect their awards. All these individuals are leaders, either through their formal roles on the IABC Vic Board or through their demonstrated excellence in their profession.

The buzz in the lead up to the upcoming World Conference throws to the fore the leadership of our great organisation and causes me to pause and consider what leadership means in the context of our roles as communicators.

This is a theme that has been touched on numerous times over the past month. At our IABC Vic Gala, guest speaker Lucy Marcus put the challenge out to ask the hard questions, have the difficult discussions and think about why it is we are doing what we are doing – and whether or not it is right. If it is not – then don’t be afraid to stand up and say so or question the action.

At the 2013 Corporate Affairs Summit in Sydney in late May, a number of the speakers spoke of leadership in communications: Jay Walsh, Wikimedia Foundation’s Head of Communications on harnessing the passion and efforts of a global army of unpaid volunteers, Roger Fisk, the man behind the Obama for America Campaign on the pioneering use of social media in Obama’s first and second election campaigns, Jason Laird Executive Director of Communications at Telstra spoke of the need to speak up, and speak up loudly when you see something wrong and the Head of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison spoke of leadership in the context of driving cultural transformation.

These last two points in particular have received more widespread attention this past week as an obviously enraged Lieutenant General Morrison drew a powerful line in the sand in the wake of the latest email scandal to embroil our military. Lieutenant General Morrison’s response to the crisis is a stunning example of both crisis and leadership communications. For those of you who may not have seen/ heard it I urge you to take a look:, and as communicators to take up his call to action, not just in terms of sexism, harassment and bullying, but in terms of any behaviour that is ethically wrong. So speak up and speak up loudly. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept …

In a recent article in Leading Company, IABC Vic member Dionne Lew writes of the danger of deferring to expertise. In her article, she challenges readers to exercise independent thought and consider the relevance of expertise before ascribing it with an appropriate degree of weight. She also encourages multiplicity of perspective, flexibility to adapt to a changing environment, gathering and utilising the latest information to validate a particular argument – rather than hiding behind the credentials or position of self or others to give legitimacy to a point of view.

Reflecting on all this, at its very core, good leadership communication involves:

  • integrity, stand up for what you believe in,
  • a compelling purpose, we are here to make a difference,
  • courage, to exercise independent thought and judgement, not to be afraid to do things differently, and not to be afraid of dissent,
  • a voice and at times a loud voice – be vocal in your dissent if that dissent is for the good of the organisation and/or its stakeholders.

We would all do well to bear in mind these things as we go about our duties as communicators. Every one of us has the capacity to be a leader – through the way in which we conduct ourselves and through the example we give to others.

Another reason for my focus on leadership at this time is that my term as president is drawing to a close. In August we will be voting in a new Board. It has been a joy, honour and privilege to serve you – but it is important to keep your board fresh, vibrant and energetic, so the tenure of president is confined to one year and I will soon be handing over the leadership to the very capable hands of Vice President, Zora Artis.

A number of board roles will be opening up for the coming year. If you are seeking a truly unique professional development opportunity that will broaden your experience and your network beyond your wildest belief – now is your chance. If you relish robust discussion, the opportunity to think and act strategically and if you believe you have what it takes to be an IABC Board member, I urge you to get in touch with me, Zora or any of the board members and let us know. Nomination forms and position descriptions will be distributed by email and posted to the IABC Victoria website in coming days and nominations will close on 14 July 2013. We have a great pool of talent within our chapter and I look forward to considering the applications – together with other members of the Nominations Committee. So please don’t delay – and submit your nomination form soon.

And on that note I leave you to continue packing for New York. I look forward to bringing home insights and learnings from World Conference and sharing them with you. In the interim, I will join others in tweeting about what is being discussed there – so be sure to follow the tweet stream using the official hashtag #IABCWC13.

All the very best for the month ahead and see you on the other side of New York/World Conference.