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Rising to the Occasion

By Michael Kithcart

In the event industry, the last month has been a series of reactions and triage. Events have been canceled last minute and seasons ended or postponed responding to the need to isolate. Everyone’s had to move to working remotely, revenue has stopped. As event leaders you’ve had to make hard calls, answer to boards, appeal to corporate partners, communicate to a variety of audiences. Hard decisions have already been made and more are on the horizon.

When the change is rapid, deep, and ongoing, how does that shape leadership style? When the country has to shut out and shut down for the virus, how do leaders prevent a shutdown of progress? This will be a defining moment in time. For all the hard and painful decisions that have already been made, this is also a time to rise to the occasion, adjust to the changing tides while grounding in actions of consistency that will help carry teams and organizations through for the future.

These are areas we are seeing that can make a real difference for organizations. These are areas that as a leader, you can directly influence, guide, shape and put in motion.

  1. Prepare for recovery now. It may feel better to play it safe right now, but it will impede recovery later. Hold and respond to both a near-term and a long-term plan.
      • Figure out what your near-term timelines are. Two-week chunks? The next 30 or 60 days? Look at what needs to happen with staff, the board, sponsors, operations, external and internal communications, expenses and cash flow. What has to continue to happen in these next weeks and months to keep the organization going and position it for the future? Put it in place. Examine it weekly, connect on it daily.
      • Carve out time for scenario planning to develop a longer-term plan. What are the probabilities, best case and worst case scenarios for end of year, a year from now. Once this has been determined, what are the steps you can put in place right now that will make the plan possible? What will you measure to know if it’s working and still on point? When will you make adjustments? Test and fail quickly. Build on what’s working.

  1. Engage on every level and then do it some more. Your team, board, partners all need to know what to count on now even while much is still changing. Share information. Include people in idea generation to be part of the solution. Keep connecting with your event peers and be generous in sharing current realities and what you’re doing. You simply cannot over communicate right now. Inform everyone multiple times. Provide calm and share what is known today, acknowledge it might change. Reassure you will communicate every step of the way.

  2. Skill up – Engage the brain and learn something new or go deeper in your area of expertise. On-line learning has never been so abundant or available. Encourage your team to do the same. Participate on group sessions for events, be on webinars or conduct some. The way you’ve led in the past might not get you or the organization where it needs to go. Invest time in your development to get and be better.

  3. Keep your head right. There are many added pressures right now and people need you on your “A” game. It’s so important you do what you need to be at your best, and to have a clear mind. Think of leadership as being in high performance training mode. Eat right, sleep, exercise, meditate, turn off the devices, spend time with your family.

What you do now will directly determine your readiness for tomorrow. Now is the time to rise to the occasion and be the leader your organization and team needs.


About the author: Michael Kithcart is a Strategy Consultant at Caravel Marketing. Throughout her career, Michael has transformed organizations, created divisions, organized startups and enhanced the effectiveness of individuals and teams. She is a leader in working with organizations to develop strategic initiatives that meet and exceed sponsorship sales goals.

About Caravel Marketing Caravel Marketing specializes in revenue development and partnership marketing. Caravel develops and implements strategic plans to increase revenue and accelerate performance; we guide the entire process from beginning to end, connecting events and properties with brands to create meaningful partnerships.