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Three Things a PR Pro Learned Through Leadership Detroit

This month marks one year since I embarked on my journey through Leadership Detroit, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s transformational leadership program for existing and emerging regional leaders. From heightening my self-awareness and exposing me to adaptive leadership practices, to expanding my knowledge of the key issues impacting the City of Detroit and surrounding region, it was a remarkable educational experience for me. It was also a deeply personal one.

As I reflect on all I gained over the past year, three lessons from Leadership Detroit rise to the top.

It is OK to be uncomfortable. Growth requires commitment, self-awareness and a willingness to block out life’s distractions for a bit. Leadership Detroit reinforced that the road to growth is challenging. I trusted classmates I’d known for less than 24 hours to push me over a 12-foot wall, shared intimate results from an informative 360-degree leadership inventory, and spent two intense days exploring race and diversity in Detroit. While these experiences pushed me way beyond my comfort zone, being open to growth means fully embracing these experiences versus avoiding them.

Consistently seek feedback. We often let our pride get in the way of regularly seeking feedback from our peers and superiors. Through discussions with my classmates, I learned new concepts to consistently seek feedback including the Start.Stop.Repeat survey. Seeking feedback on what to start, stop or keep doing regularly is a great way to keep little things from getting out of control. This practice, which I’m now trying at Stratacomm, is not only a helpful way to seek feedback on your management style, but also a great way to brainstorm how to evolve your product or office culture.

Step outside of your day to day. As a leader at an integrated communications agency, I tend to seek out PR and marketing communications professional development opportunities. While those experiences are valuable, outside perspective and an understanding of what is going on around you is equally important. Every month, Leadership Detroit explored a key issue impacting the region through presentations and interaction with individuals challenging the status quo like Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti, Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools, and Barbara McQuade, Law Professor University of Michigan and Former U.S. Attorney for Easter District of Michigan. This exposure piqued my curiosity in new ways, left me craving more information, and expanded my perspective and point of view when faced with a client challenge.

At the end of the program, my classmates bestowed upon me the “Most Personal Growth” award. It was truly humbling to learn my classmates saw the effort I was putting in to get the most out of my time in Leadership Detroit. However, awards and graduation don’t mark the end of my journey – the work outside the classroom is only just beginning.

Kristin Calandro Tyll is the managing director of Stratacomm’s Detroit office and an agency partner. She is also a proud Leadership Detroit Class XL alumna – the best class ever!