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The Omnicompetent Leader

IAEE President and CEO David Dubois talks about CEIR's Omnichannel Marketing Insights research, and the benefits it has to becoming a more effective leader.

Editorial Note: Originally published in the April 2022 issue of Trade Show Executive magazine.

One of the many roles executive leaders must fulfill is to provide the strategic vision and motivation to successfully meet the organization’s goals and objectives. The executive team must not only provide the direction to be taken but also the inspiration to get there. In doing so, it behooves us to think outside the box and constantly look to new sources of learning and ideation.

This issue’s feature on CEIR’s Omnichannel Marketing Insights research is a good reminder that, much like the approach to omnichannel marketing, industry executives must be creative and diverse in their leadership tactics. In fact, I see several correlations between the results found in the study that can be applied to any leadership strategy.

Here, I would like to share with you some of my key takeaways from following this study as I explore how I can be a more effective leader.

What is the motivation?

Recovering from the pandemic has become the overriding theme to just about everything that has to do with our industry, including how we produce our events. CEIR’s latest research indicates that this process requires not only fully comprehending the current attendee and exhibitor motivations for participating in events, but that nailing these motivations on the head is more important than ever.

Likewise, for IAEE, our stakeholder motivations have been greatly impacted by the pandemic. Everything IAEE does – from leading industry advocacy, to providing continuing education and certification opportunities, to bringing our various communities together – must be re-examined and restructured where needed. Fully understanding key motivators is a crucial first step in creating a roadmap for this journey.

How do the individual paths fit into the overall journey?

CEIR’s study takes the reader through the entire customer journey with each report exploring the various paths to be considered. A key revelation for me is that between the changes forced upon us (due to the pandemic) and the evolution our industry was already undergoing (due to new technologies and a younger workforce), we are essentially rewriting the trade show playbook. This process has been in motion for some time although the pandemic has certainly sped it up. This push has brought omnichannel marketing to the forefront as a timely and powerful tool to connect each path that makes up the overall journey.

This tactic also applies to strategic processes. IAEE’s executive leadership team strives to connect the various paths on its roadmap – such as its member journey, governance and leadership journey, staff journey, etc. – to the overarching goal of providing the best experience to all, and accounting for where these paths merge and diverge.

Where do we go from here?

Where we go from here is to be determined, but we have reliable research data to feel positive about the direction in which we are headed. As we learn and apply the lessons from the pandemic, we have no reason not to believe our industry will eventually emerge stronger.

This self-evaluation exercise has inspired what I call “omnicompetent leadership,” which accurately describes what is required at the executive level. We must be fully competent in all of our organization’s specialties which is, obviously, a team effort. My challenge to you, fellow executive leaders, is to learn something new about what your stakeholders need to succeed. Strive to be omnipresent in your organization’s journey(s) as our industry continues its trajectory toward a full pre-pandemic recovery.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO

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