A friend in the industry remarked to me that there was a considerable lack of leadership on all sides throughout this pandemic. I thought about that statement and wondered if there is confusion for many as to the difference between managing tasks and people, and leading subordinates, peers and customers toward a desired outcome for all stakeholders. Assigning tasks and proclaiming processes merely checks boxes for self-gratification and evidence that “I’m doing my job.” Managing without inspiration and willful buy-in from all parties is a path which is either short-lived or doomed to failure from the outset. But it is important to note that leaders are not born, they are made. In nature versus nurture, nurture wins all the time.

This is a great opportunity to reinvent ourselves, and for leaders to provide vision and inspire others to see it and hunger for the successful pursuit of it. Aristotle said that the most important characteristic of leadership is courage. A good leader will have the courage to walk outside of the boundary that is status quo. They know they must stand out rather than stand in with the crowd. Leaders are creative and effective communicators of the end result they wish to accomplish. They inspire others through words and deeds as they lead by example. Simply put, “Leadership is the art of getting somebody to do something you want them to do … because they want to do it.” Leaders provide lasting results not because of who they are, but because of what they have helped others become. They are builders, they encourage dialogue and listen to what is being offered. Leaders never have all of the answers, but because they surround themselves with good people and promote open and constructive communication, answers are never far away.

Are you prepared to lead? 

Your team and your clients need someone to look to for hope; a direction in uncertain times. Will you demonstrate the courage and stand out? Create a vision, a path and inspire people to see it, want it and be lifted toward it. It is not easy, and often one must adjust along the way toward the goal. Good leaders will admit their mistakes. Provide that vision and inspiration to your team members. Bring ideas to your clients that help them in the pursuit of their goals. Present your plans to them and this will invariably start the dialogue toward a mutually desired outcome. There is no set path. If there were, we would be bumping into everyone else along the way. Have courage. Never give up. Live by the words of the greatest 20th century philosopher, Wayne Gretzky, who said, “I always missed 100 percent of the shots I never took.” Keep trying and start by reinventing yourself.

The staff and directors of PPPC continue to proudly serve our members’ needs. We reinvented ourselves and our tactics and seek to provide a vision of our association that inspires dialogue and a strong sense of belonging to a group where mutual goals are desired and important to all. We—all of us—are here for the greater good of each other and our industry as a whole. The one unalienable right we all have, is the right to be heard. We welcome your comments and encourage your constructive input as to how we may serve even better.

Now, it’s time to show the world the new you. Stay safe and keep well.  


Alex Jovetic is chair of the board for Promotional Product Professionals of Canada.