Ever since I started teaching this capstone, I’ve structured it in the same way. Each week has a theme such as integrated communications, entrepreneurship and crisis communications, which is accompanied with class notes and reading assignments that I upload to Blackboard. Now as many of my students who are reading this blog know all too well, sometimes we don’t always make it to discussing the class notes. We value the class discussion of issues that are on the student’s minds, leaving them to review supplemental materials outside of class time.
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This week was different, as Adam (my TA) taught the class around a critical theme of the course: leadership.
This poses a natural question – why does a group of college seniors need to know about leadership when they’re going into entry level positions? Our philosophy is simple: you are never too young to start thinking about the type of leader you want to be. In the PR industry – perhaps more so than other fields – individuals find themselves on the fast track and end up in a manager role sooner than they would have anticipated. Mentorship starts several months into your PR career, at any level. Oftentimes, a promotion can lead to managing a friend. For many of my students, being in an advisory role three months into a new job isn’t something they always consider, so it’s important to me that each year we take time to address this topic.
First and foremost, while there are attributes that contribute to being a successful leader, there is no one right way to do the job. Look no further than the head coaches of the Patriots and the Seahawks in last Sunday’s Super Bowl. As one of PAN’s clients, Novell, so brilliantly pointed out in a timely article on Inc., Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick are both successful in their way own way, with their own personalities and motivational tactics. Despite their drastically different styles, they are both successful leaders – though we all know who the big winner was on Sunday!
To help students develop their personal leadership styles, Adam shared tips and key takeaways for how to be a successful leader, no matter your career stage:
- Be genuine, honest and sincere
- When delegating, set clear and concise expectations
- Find a balance between manager and friend
For my students, I hope last week’s class got them thinking about what type of leader they want to be. You never know how soon you could be called upon to lead, so the sooner you start identifying what a successful leader looks like in your eyes, the easier the transition will be.
This blog post is part of larger series, ‘Cuse Chronicles, from PAN President and Founder, Phil A. Nardone, Jr., as he chronicles his experience teaching two capstones classes at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. To read the entire series, please click here.