Many people – IABC members and non-members alike – have shared their thoughts online regarding last week’s resignation of IABC’s Executive Director Chris Sorek. The comments have ranged from speculating why he left after 11 months to questioning what skills the next Executive Director needs. Many believe this is an organization in crisis. I could opine on many issues, but I’ll provide just some of my perspective.
1. Good for Chris Sorek/IABC to come to the realization that he wasn’t a great fit and resolve it. Is it optimal to have a leader leave after 11 months? No. But if something isn’t working, the change needs to be made, no matter how painful it is or how bad it looks. I’m hopeful IABC will take many lessons from this – communication and organizational/leadership lessons – and do things differently going forward.
2. The organization won’t fall apart because its Executive Director left. It seems to me that the Executive Director’s role is to help direct the implementation of the organizational strategy. While significant issues arise when an organization doesn’t have a strategy, there is one at IABC. Whether it’s the best strategy is always up for debate; but after reviewing the IABC Quarterly Strategy Update - February 2013, it seems directionally correct. The IABC headquarters staff was reduced several months ago, but those who are still there will continue to keep things already underway moving.
3. Running any sizable organization is difficult. Each industry has its unique challenges. I don’t presume that professional communicators are immune to the extraordinary challenges of navigating through these times. Crises happen and it's how people learn from them that allows organizations to come out stronger on the other side.
4. IABC should have the Executive Director relocate to where most of the staff resides. Chris Sorek lives in England, I believe. It helps a leader to be in the same location as key staff.
I still believe that IABC’s “holistic” approach is the most useful one for many communicators. Our professional paths are rarely focused on just one aspect of communication. As long as IABC continues publishing excellent articles and research and improves its programs, the organization should continue to be valuable for many professionals.
We at IABC Cleveland will continue to work to provide support to area communicators, from professional development to networking activities. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns.