The Opinionated Manager

learning to trust my own opinions and expertise

Building a better team or building a better me?


I was pretty excited yesterday to receive an email asking for Abstract submissions for the 2013 NAGCAS Conference. NAGCAS stands for National Association of Graduate Career Advisory Services, and is the professional association for university (and TAFE) Careers Services.

I attended the 2012 conference and it was FANTASTIC! Easily the most interesting and collaborative conference I have ever attended. One of the great things about university careers services is that we all approach things slightly differently, and our make-up can vary wildly, but at the end of the day we are collaborators rather than competitors. The NAGCAS conference capitalises on that sense of collegiality and showcases information and best practices that cover more than just the career counselling side of things. This is great for me and my Client Relations team, as we cover a range of areas – mentoring, placements, employer liaison, international work placements, events, employer relations, resources and marketing and communications.

As such, I have encouraged every member of my team to consider putting in to attend the conference – there is something there for everyone! And more than that, I have also been planting the seed amongst them to present a session at the conference. This would be a pretty big step up for a lot of my team, but I am confident that they have the material that would interest and engage the conference attendees, and that it would be a rare chance for many of them to stand in front of a large group of their peers (and higher) and talk about what we do. I have given them until next week to come up with ideas, so that I can then sit down and go through them and decide which ones have legs, and then work further on them before submitting as an abstract. I am really excited about the opportunity to help craft these presentations, and coach my team on their public speaking (I’m no expert, but no slouch, either), and so far there has been some buzz coming from my team about the opportunity.

There are only two downsides:

1. Not everyone who wants to go to the Conference will be able to. Budgetary reality.

2. I want to present!

I’m currently having a bit of a battle with myself, even though I know that the good, fair person in me will win out! I presented at the conference last year and everything about the experience was AMAZING! Last year I worked with my genius communications officer, Steph, to build a fun and informative presentation about using Facebook to promote our Careers Service (with the very catchy title of “Like Me Dammit!”) that was really well received. The nature of my role as manager means that all of the exciting and interesting projects that I am boss of have a foot-soldier team member looking after the day-to-day business of them – so whilst I could present on any of these projects with legitimacy, there is also the sense that I would be taking the glory in place of the people who by and large do the actual work. Essentially that is what I did last year (although in that case, I was already going to the conference and Steph wasn’t when we decided at the last minute to do a presentation). I guess if I really wanted to, I could do the same thing again this year. But it wouldn’t really be fair, would it? Or is that a reality and privilege of being the boss?

Did I mention the conference is being held on Daydream Island?

So, what do you reckon the rules are for pulling rank? Will I get more pleasure and satisfaction out of helping members of my team step up to the plate, or through my own advancement on the public stage?

PS having now created my own Facebook page (like me dammit!) I realise just how much harder Steph’s job actually is, and that presenting was the easy bit!

Linking up with Blogs & PR Talk To Us Thursday


6 comments on “Building a better team or building a better me?

  1. Me
    June 25, 2013

    You’re on your own here – no recommendations from me. At work I wear a management hat but at home I wear an employees hat when talking about work stuff with A’s job. Work gets really miffed when I ‘take the side’ of the workers even if I truly believe they are right !!!!!
    Whatever happens and whoever goes – I wish you and your team great success.
    Have the best day !

  2. EssentiallyJess
    June 27, 2013

    Oh tricky one! I guess it really depends on who else you have who will present. Would they get offended if you did it? And is their presentation going to be as good for the company as yours would be?

  3. Yvette
    June 27, 2013

    I love conferences – no matter what they are for!

    Blogs and PR visiting šŸ™‚

  4. jarrahjungle
    June 28, 2013

    I think conferences are great for networking, mix and mingle and you can get some great ideas from chatting to people on the breaks, sometimes more than you get when your actually being lectured to! What a fantastic location as well I’m a tad jealous!
    Visiting from Blogs & PR

  5. dionnelew
    June 29, 2013

    Being a leader has upsides and downsides. Good leaders nurture their teams but also have a role to represent their teams. This is a legitimate purpose of leadership.

    For example, on a executive, you have heads of various areas because it’s practical, the executive team has faith that the head knows the work and represents the views of the team. Everyone knows that the rep is not ‘doing’ the work, but steering the group to do it. That is what leadership is about. Is Obama writing press releases? I don’t think so.

    Leadership is often about seeing a vision and rounding up the right skill set to deliver it. No matter how good you are at managing a Facebook page that is not the same as having a social vision for the way you communicate.

    It’s wonderful that you want your team to feel respected and acknowledged but this is not defined by do they/don’t they present at a conference, there are plenty of ways to showcase their talents on an ongoing basis.

    The question I would ask myself is this – if there was a crisis or an issue would I step up and take responsibility for it as the head of my team? Likewise, if there’s a legitimate forum in which to represent my team and our work, would I step up and do it?

    Why is the fact that one is a difficult and one is a pleasurable event different?

    To be ‘fair’ you could can acknowledge your team in the presentation and look for opportunities at other appropriate forums for them to present and cut their teeth on. Internal? Peer to peer social tools management?

    That’s my two cents worth.

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This entry was posted on June 25, 2013 by in Leadership & Management and tagged , , , , , , , .

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