Editor’s note: In recognition of the industry ideals reflected in the PRSA 2014 International Conference theme “Leading the Way: Fearless Future for PR,” we’ve invited industry-leading female CEOs to share their inspiration, tips and advice on how to grow, succeed and advance to the highest levels in the profession. Follow the “Leading the Way: Lessons from Female CEOs” series using the hashtag #PRLessonsInLeadership.
When asked to write this piece, I was somewhat hesitant.
Not that I don’t have plenty of advice to share. It’s just I’ve never thought about gender as a qualifier for leadership advice.
Some may consider this irrelevant in the context of this post but rather than dismiss my point, let me explain.
As a child growing up in Ireland, my parents encouraged me to have an opinion. In fact, our dinner table served as a forum for robust debate about everything from politics to religion. And, of course, my siblings and I were encouraged to have a point of view.
Though, often on the losing end of these lively conversations, they helped shape me into who I am today—open-minded, deliberate and comfortable with making important decisions. I carried that assuredness into adulthood, and it served as the cornerstone of my professional pursuits.
And throughout my professional journey, I never faced the glass ceiling many women, past and present, hit during the course of their careers. Not that I think it’s invisible or irrelevant, just something less known to me. As a result I’ve never viewed opportunity or my role as CEO as gender specific.
In fact, upon coming to the U.S., I found nothing but support from my peers and countless others within the PR industry, of which I’m eternally grateful.
So now, after more than 24 years in public relations, I’m asked to share some of the lessons learned along the way. So I’ll do it as, simply, a CEO.
Remember, communications is a key business function. So keep learning about things that impact your clients’ business. Be aware of current events including political and financial news as well as technology and pop culture.
Also, focus on the big picture by understanding your client’s audiences, how they evolve, what their influences are and what impact these changes have across multiple generations. More importantly, how does that affect your work?
And above all, have an opinion.
Forget about competing with others; focus on what you can do yourself to be successful. Keep it simple: Are you meeting your boss’ and clients’ needs?
And never — I mean never — burn bridges.
As you grow in the industry, and the industry grows on you, the world gets smaller.
Building relationships is a major asset. So be considered with clients and colleagues, regardless of your personal frustrations. Where possible help others along the way because it will always be repaid, even when you least expect it.
Maintain Work-Life “Blend”
I consciously try and avoid the word “balance,” because I don’t believe that’s possible. Sure, you can attempt to balance the two, but I’ve struggled with this and would say many others do, too. So blending — meaning, some give, some take all around in order to meet the demands of both sides — has worked better for me.
I’m a parent of four children. I’m the leader of 28 offices worldwide. But I’m also a daughter, spouse, friend, colleague and someone who enjoys life to its fullest.
So that being said, it’s unrealistic to think all these could ever be in balance. That’s why clients have gotten to know my children and my children have gotten to know so much about Text100.
Also — and this is my favorite — always be willing to share your interests and passions, joys and, sometimes, fears, so that everyone understands who YOU are.
All said, I guess the best piece of advice I can offer is, “Stay true to yourself, and be the best you can be.”
It may be cliché, I know. But it’s been my guiding principle and made me who I am today: an opinionated person who lives a hectic but joyful life. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
Aedhmar Hynes is the Chief Executive Officer of Text100 Global Communications, one of the world’s largest, independent, public relations firms that serve companies that use technology for competitive advantage. She oversees a staff of over 500, including 25 offices spanning North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Aedhmar is based in New York City follow her on Twitter @Aedhmar