The IPPA Blog | The Blog of The Irish Professional Photographers Association

CAT | Articles

On foot of the upcoming nominations and elections for the IPPA council I thought a word on leadership might be suitable.

Once in a while you meet a leader who stands out–even in a room filled with skilled, experienced, successful people. They are just remarkably charismatic. They are just remarkably likeable.

You can tell, in an instant, they simply think and act and lead differently than most people.

But those rare individuals don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. While some are born with an aptitude for leadership, truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, and a healthy dose of introspection they learn how to make quick decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.

They learn to truly lead.

And in time those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively, and confidently.

Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these eight things naturally, automatically, and instinctively:

1. Praise. It’s easy to tell when member recognition is simply one entry on a very long to-do list. We’ve all been around people who occasionally–and awkwardly–shake a few hands and pat a few backs. No matter how hard they try to fake it, their insincerity is evident.

No one gets enough praise, so truly outstanding leaders see expressing thanks, giving praise, and providing recognition as one gift that can never be given often enough.

Praise is almost like breathing to a truly outstanding leader: natural, automatic, frequent, and most of all, genuine and sincere.

2. Decide. Ideas are great but implementation is everything. Outstanding leaders quickly weigh, assess, decide, and then immediately act–because decisiveness and action build confidence and momentum.

That’s why making a poor decision is often better than making no decision at all. Mistakes can almost always be corrected. Even though you should always try, rarely must you be right the first time. Adapting and learning and revising so you get it right in the end matters a lot more.

Especially when you…

3. Take responsibility. We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we do after we make those mistakes.

Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I was wrong.” Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I made the wrong choice. We need to change course.”

Outstanding leaders instinctively admit their mistakes early and often because they’re quick to take responsibility and because they desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are simply challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and assign blame.

4. Communicate. Business is filled with what: What to execute, what to implement, what to say, and sometimes even what to feel.

What’s often missing is the why.

That’s why so many projects, processes, and tasks fail. Tell me what to do and I’ll try to do it; tell me why, help me understand why, help me believe and make that why my mission too…and I’ll run through proverbial brick walls to do the impossible.

Managers stipulate. Outstanding leaders explain. And then they listen–because the most effective communication involves way more listening than talking.

5. Set the example. Say you’re walking through somewhere with a colleague and you see a piece of rubbish on the floor. There are two types of people when that happens:

One spots it, stops, struts over, snatches it up, crumples it like a beer can, and strides 20 feet to a bin to slam it home. He’s picked up the rubbish, but he’s also making a statement.

The other veers over without breaking stride, picks it up, crumples it up, keeps talking, and doesn’t throw it away until he comes across a convenient bin. He’s not thinking about making a statement. He just saw a little trash and picked it up without thinking.

Simple example? Sure. But extremely telling–especially to those around you.

Why? People notice what you do. When you’re in charge, everyone watches what you do. The difference lies in how you do what you do… and what that says about you.

Outstanding leaders do what they do simply because it’s important to them. It’s part of who they are. They care about go, not show–and, in time, so do they people they work with.

6. Give feedback. We all want to improve: to be more skilled, more polished, more successful. That’s why we all need constructive feedback.

Because they care about their members, outstanding leaders instinctively go to the person struggling and say, “I know you can do this. And I’m going to help you.”

Think about a time when a person told you what you least wanted to hear and yet most needed to hear. They changed your life. Outstanding leaders naturally try to change people’s lives. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Because they care.

7. Seek help. At some point, most people in leadership positions begin to avoid displaying signs of vulnerability. After all, you’re in charge of everything, so you’re supposed to know everything. Of course that’s impossible. You can’t know everything about your job. Your employees can’t know everything about their jobs, either.

Outstanding leaders don’t pretend to know everything. (In fact, they purposely hire people who know more than they do.) So they naturally ask questions. They automatically ask for help.

And in the process they show vulnerability, respect for the knowledge and skills of others, and a willingness to listen–all of which are qualities of outstanding leaders.

8. Challenge. Most leaders implement their ideas by enforcing processes and procedures that support those ideas.

Outstanding leaders create broad standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees by giving them the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. They allow employees to turn “yours” into “ours,” transforming work into an outward expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences.

So before you vote think about who you want to lead you and whether they exhibit the 8 examples outlined above.

 

· · · · · ·

Canon’s various logo guise through the ages but regardless of the subtle logo changes, it’s brand has always stood for quality and rugged cameras.

Many photographers need to proactively build and manage their brands.

Unfortunately, most do not understand what a brand is.

A brand is not a logo. It is not a web site or a colour or a font. A brand is not a business card and it is not an ad you run in a magazine. In fact, a brand is not most of the things you might think it is.

And don’t think paying a designer lots of money will get you a brand. It won’t. All you will get is a design, which is not a brand. And beware, most designers don’t understand how to build a brand. You may not even need any design or advertising to have a strong brand.

Unfortunately, in this crazy, competitive and noisy world, you do need a brand more than ever. A strong brand, managed well, will help to correctly position you in people’s minds. It will also help differentiate you from other photographers. Above all, it will help give people a reason to buy you or whatever you are selling.

You need a brand, just as much as BMW, Hasselblad or Apple need a brand.

So what is a brand? A brand is a promise. Thats it. It’s a promise.

When you are thinking of buying anything, a car, a camera, an egg; a whole lot of things will process in your mind. Some of this stuff will be logical, tangible and functional thoughts. Some of it will be irrational, intangible and emotional etc. All the things which people will think about, and feel and believe in, these will be the building blocks of your brand. Your job in building your brand is to try and manage these thoughts and beliefs.

People who know of you will have beliefs and opinions of you whether you like it or not. Your job is to manage and influence those beliefs and thoughts before they take firm hold. To get ahead of those perceptions and to put your vision and values into peoples minds first.

Think about a brand which you value and to which you are loyal. That value and loyalty is based around your belief in what that brand will promise to deliver to you. And heaven for bid any brand which breaks its promise.

Anyway this is just food for thought.

 

**As a follow on, here is something I found by Guy Kawasaki. You could benchmark your brand against this maybe:

“The Art of Branding”

· · · · · ·

A guest blogpost by Business Coach Linda Ryan of LR Coaching.

Call 086 3679648 for an appointment

Being any kind of artist especially a photographer has become increasingly challenging over the last year. With the development of smartphones and everyone and their mother taking better photos it would seem difficult to sustain a living from the art of capturing the moment.

Selling photographic services is the name of the game and like any other professional depends on the money people have to play around with.

The recession means that the public don’t have disposable income to buy great photographs or indeed hire talented photographers. Being undercut by cheaper competition and those who have developed their hobby is a regular feature of what is happening out there right now.

Taking photos and being creative are great stress busters in themselves but what happens when this has become your business and your business is not functioning. A non-functioning business means no money and no money means stress and exasperation.

The stress of the recession is affecting nearly every sector. How can we maintain an effective outlook while coping with the unsettling circumstances we are living through today.

The basics of stress management are good food, regular exercise, regular rest and time to reflect. Along with these there are other factors which can help when we experience tension and anxiety.

How much control we have over things needs to be assessed honestly. Realising that we can do something about our situation and then acting on that can go a long way to dealing with our stress levels. Likewise realising that we don’t have influence over things can bring relief and free our energy up for areas where we can be more effective.

Fear of branching out or looking at other options will only keep us in a stuck and restrained position so don’t be afraid to challenge your thinking and view point to see if some other avenue opens up and would benefit you at this stage. Reflecting on what holds you back from looking at this might help to shine light on potential improvements one could make that would be positive rather than staying in the same situation.

I have heard of photographers fall into the trap of taking photos and providing services for little or nothing so being in business for the artist in general can be a challenge, what must it be like when a recession has us by the neck.

Is it time to set new goals and if not what is your present strategy going forward. Have you got one and if not why not? Do you need professional marketing assistance, do you need to get social media savvy, have you got an up to date website that is mobile device responsive that shows off your amazing photos and lets people know where you are and what you cost? Would it help to be challenged by a coach to see what your next step could be. Start checking out potential professionals who could help. Doing something is better than doing nothing and there are tonnes of great advice and assistance on the internet and a lot of it for free!

Self-awareness is key to managing our stress so ask yourself where and what tends to make you most stressed and then see what your options are.

Linda Ryan is a coach and stress management consultant. Her website is lrcoaching.com

Linda Ryan is a business owner and coach. Over the last number of years she has specifically been working with employees, managers and executives in such areas as performance breakthrough and work/life balance, along with areas like stress and anger management.  She holds an Advanced Diploma in Personal and Executive Coaching, and is approved by the British Psychological Society for Personality and Occupational Psychometrics.  She has also lectured and been a trainer at Griffith College Dublin on their personal development programs which she designed and assessed. She holds an MA from Dublin Business School and has worked in the sports, corporate and hospitality industries.

· · · · ·

Aaron Lindberg is a photographer and blogger based in Kansas City, Missouri. As well as shooting and blogging, he often writes articles for ‘Fstoppers.com“, which is a terrifically entertaining and highly informative (usually) video blog run by Lee Morris in the USA.

One of Lindbergs more entertaining and topical articles/posts appeared on Fstoppers yesterday titled “Photography is dead”. In it he talks about “shooting for free” and “low hanging fruit” – in my opinion, the entire article is well worth a read. It might change the perspective of many photographers out there.

Here is a link to the full article for you.

Enjoy

http://fstoppers.com/photography-is-dead

· · · · · ·