PRSSALR – A lesson in transformative leadership


Each summer, students from around the country gather in Scottsdale, AZ, to discuss best practices to lead PRSSA chapters around the country. This year, I was fortunate enough to be a delegate and represent the Ohio University chapter – an organization I’m very proud to be a part of and talk endlessly about at these sorts of events.

While I learned so much about professional networking and fundraising at the Leadership Rally, my biggest takeaway came from the very first session led by Cheryl Procter-Rogers. I knew I was in the right place to become a better leader when I was blown away within the first 10 minutes of her speech.

Cheryl, a PR and business strategist, centered her presentation on the topic of “transformational leadership.” This term was completely foreign to me, but now knowing and understanding what it means, it will change the way I delegate and present my ideas to others for years to come.

Basically what she says is that there are three types of leaders.

1. Transactional Leaders – They’re all about getting things done well.

2. Turnaround Leaders – They act decisively and take action quickly.

3. Transformational Leaders – They inspire positive changes in those who follow and connect with others’ values. They know what’s exciting to others and what drives them to action, challenge tradition and continuously improve with a focus on the future.

While the characteristics of a transformational leader seem simple, I think we (as student leaders) so often forget to take the passions of others into mind. It’s not that we don’t care – it’s just often easier to take our own strengths and drives into account and do what we know and love best.

However, it’s so important to inspire others, especially through an organization like PRSSA, where the end goal is for students to land in careers where they are truly happy and feel that they’re making a difference. This kind of leadership creates a supportive environment where everyone feels responsible to do their best work, because they want to. It allows for peer mentoring and learning more about the people around you. Even though we’re all still college students, you never know if the person sitting next to you could be your future co-worker or even boss.

As an organization, PRSSA has supported and inspired me to become a better leader. Not only do I plan to bring these ideals back to our chapter, but instill these leadership qualities in our executive board and members. PRSSALR taught me that it’s not about individual leadership – it’s about encouraging the leader in everyone to create an inclusive environment where sharing ideas and goals are best practices.

thumbnail_Erin McMahon


Erin McMahon is a senior studying strategic communication and serves as the Executive Vice President of Scripps PRSSA. Thank you, Erin, for representing our Chapter at PRSSALR. Follow her on Twitter @emcmahon1.

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