The Event Supplier and Services Association’s (ESSA) 2022 Annual Conference challenged its members to explore the cost-effective benefits of leading rather than managing.
The conference, held at The Forest of Arden Hotel, Birmingham in conjunction with headline sponsors beMatrix and Abraxys Global, was filled with enlightening discussions and powerful insights on skills that can easily be applied to empower people and organisations.
Opening the conference, ex-detective inspector and founder of coaching service Mindsmith, Ian Washington-Smith, discussed how creating new possibilities is far easier to achieve when making small changes to mindset to allow a more flexible way of thinking. He asked members to question if they really do apply flexible thinking to every scenario.
Washington-Smith revealed that an understanding of three knowledge types – what you know, what you don’t know, and what you think you know that may not be true – can directly impact beliefs and perception, which are two very different things.
‘Your beliefs can create what you perceive, and values and beliefs create behaviours’, argued Washington-Smith. Simply being aware of this – by bringing it out from the subconscious into the conscious mind – can have a significant positive impact on input and output within an organisation.
Virgin Atlantic’s head of customer service, Jan Moir further supported this theory saying, ‘the environment you create within your organisation is exactly what your customers see – reputations matter’.
In a session entitled ‘Living on the edge of chaos’, former UK hostage negotiator Nigel Taberner explored how listening is a negotiating superpower and is the most powerful gift you can give to someone. He believes through listening comes knowledge, and knowledge is power. A common mistake when problem-solving is to do it from your own perspective. Instead, it’s far more valuable to tap into the values and beliefs of others, learn what makes them tick and never underestimate the importance of the first 60 seconds of a significant conversation.
This year, ESSA also hosted its first sales stream workshop during the conference, ‘Sales hasn’t changed, selling has changed’. Event industry sales professionals benefitted from the expertise of three speakers. Stephan Murtagh, The Exhibition Guy, discussed how all good things start with a story, highlighting that it’s not always necessary to look to competitors for inspiration. Nigel Taberner, who also spoke at the main conference, reiterated that we should ‘listen as if a life depends on it’ alongside creating a community within which to build connections and trust. Corporate training expert Jamie Johnson, co-founder of JFR Training, shared his top tips on the art and science of selling, which included creating good habits, the importance of making a good first impression and how taking notes in meetings will serve you well when you next meet someone.
Closing the conference, Nicolas Hamilton, who achieved history in motorsport by being the first disabled person to compete in the British Touring Car Championship, discussed his inspirational journey to success against the odds.
He said life is 90% mental and 10% physical, with mental challenges the toughest to overcome. He advised building a firm foundation when looking to overcome challenges and ‘always look to the person next to you for help and don’t be ashamed to do so’. Ultimately, Hamilton believes to help yourself, you have to help others.
ESSA director Andrew Harrison said: “This year’s conference encouraged us to ask how we change from being managers to effective leaders. Good leadership will help create the right environment to facilitate great input, which in turn can lead to resoundingly positive output where the rewards speak for themselves.
“The wealth of inspiring stories and key learnings peppered throughout the day provided much to reflect on and introduced us to several transferable skills that can easily be implemented into our day-to-day lives. It’s clear to see that making even small, low-cost changes has the potential to make a significant and fundamental difference, with the obvious tools in our armoury being the power of listening and flexible thinking. The value of the mind and how resourceful it can be is not to be underestimated.”