NEW YORK – Angela Scalpello is in a unique position to advise trade show executives, having spent a good deal of her career at high-profile organizations such as Ogilvy & Mather and PR Newswire before finding her way into this industry, where she worked for UBM as SVP of organizational development.
We had an important question for her: What advice can you offer to guide leaders on how to…lead…as they begin to restart and reopen?
TSE: Let’s start with the workplace. What can leaders do to reassure employees that it’s safe to return to the office?
Angela Scalpello (AS): Management needs to be flexible and realistic about reopening offices. It’s important to be empathetic, to listen to employees and to ask them what their suggestions are.
Some companies are doing this better than others. Those are the ones that realize that a single solution will not work for an entire organization.
Here’s one example: Think about employees who work in cities like Chicago or New York City. They don’t all have the same commute. There are people who can walk to work but there are others who will need to take public transportation, which is a very different situation. Companies need to think about people’s personal circumstances in ways they haven’t had to before.
TSE: How can show organizers reassure both exhibitors and attendees that it’s safe again to attend trade shows?
AS: There are different ways to look at this. Exhibitors are balancing risk versus reward, and that’s how they will make their decisions about moving forward.
Show organizers need to reassure attendees that there will be communication and protocols in place to make them safe. They can take guidance from travel companies like Delta and Amtrak, who have done a good job of assuring passengers that they will be safe and can return to travel.
Event organizers need to do the same thing: make changes and communicate them. Things like using technology to allow people to have contactless encounters, getting rid of long registration lines, putting directional signage on the floor and limiting the number of people who can enter a room. They can also make big shows smaller. I think we will be reimagining ourselves for the next couple of years.
TSE: Let’s talk about the importance of attitude right now when it comes to leaders.
AS: Our most impactful leaders don’t pretend to know the answers to things that no one has the answers to.If you put people before profits and show that you’re doing the right thing, it will get us through this.
TSE: How can leaders sustain themselves while they are going through this turmoil?
AS: One suggestion is to find what I call your tribe — people you trust implicitly, that you can talk to and problem-solve with. People you can let your hair down with and be yourself with.
If you’re a senior leader at an organization, you need to lead with a positive outlook, so you need to surround yourself with people with whom you can be authentically vulnerable and express your doubts.
TSE: In your practice, you talk about self-care often. How important is self-care right now?
AS: Everybody talks about self-care, but I can’t emphasize enough that we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t practice it. We need to give ourselves a break during the day. We don’t think straight if we are always tired and have no time to innovate. I call it composting — giving yourself time for reflection, allowing yourself to just be and knowing that out of that comes the rich soil.