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7 Questions on Leadership with Kathryn Lancioni

Updated: Jan 30

Name: Kathryn Lancioni

Title: Founder

Organisation: Presenting Perfection

Kathryn Lancioni is an award-winning, internationally recognized expert in the field of communications and recently named one of PR News' "People of the Year" in 2023. With more than 25 years of experience, Ms. Lancioni has a unique appreciation and understanding of the communications industry working as a journalist, public relations executive, communications strategist, college professor and leadership coach.

Starting with her earliest days in the field, Ms. Lancioni has been continually challenged to help companies discover their competitive edge. She has empowered start-ups to realize unexpected target markets, developed insightful growth-minded strategies for beleaguered brands, and constructed out-of-the-box communication programs for global powerhouses.

Ms. Lancioni has worked for some of the world’s leading PR agencies, including Edelman, Ogilvy, and Weber-Shandwick, as well as with numerous global corporations, including ADP, Creditsafe, Deloitte, IBM, Intelsat, NCR, PanAmSat, Scientific Games, Smith+Nephew, and UPS. In 2006, she launched Presenting Perfection, a communications consultancy providing customized communication coaching and training, strategic guidance, branding, and PR support to domestic and global organizations.

Ms. Lancioni has also worked as a college professor teaching the nuances of communication to students in universities across the United States. She has served on the faculty of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Montclair State University, Seton Hall University, St. John Fisher College, and William Paterson University. She has guest lectured at Columbia Business School, Cornell University, Rutgers University, and Temple University and has been the featured speaker at several international conferences. She serves on the Advisory Council of Entrepreneurship at Cornell University, the Advisory Board of the Market Research Center at the Stillman School of Business of Seton Hall University, and is a Vice President of the Global Media Executive Council (GMEC).

Ms. Lancioni is the author of three books: Communications Research, Public Relations: The Changing Global Landscape, and The Practice of Public Relations, all published by Kendall Hunt. She hosts the podcast “Practically Speaking,” a contributor to Medium and member of the Forbes Coaches’ Council. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Cornell University and a Master of Science in Journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Kathryn's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

As a leader, my biggest challenge is adapting to the continually evolving business landscape. These days, the pace of business is unprecedented, with new technologies being launched every day. It is critical to examine and evaluate each of these developments and assess whether they are right for your business.

Just because your competitor is doing something doesn't mean that it is right for your business. Ultimately, any adaptations need to be strategically relevant for an organization supporting its business objectives while also being a cultural fit.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My career is built on the word "No." I have always been motivated by rejection, viewing these events as opportunities as opposed to failures. I became a leader and ultimately the founder of my company by going against the grain and pursuing my ideas.

I've realized that the only person that can get in my way is myself. If I have an idea, I do my best to make it a reality. If it doesn't work out, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried my best to make it happen. And, I move on to the next idea.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I view every day as an opportunity to recharge, reset, and move ahead. I structure my days with that mindset, trying to capitalize on opportunities while maintaining a work/life balance. I start every day with a run, as it helps me clear my head and set my objectives. Each day, I have three things I focus on of varying importance. One of the things that I love about my work is that there is no typical day. Every day is different, bringing its own challenges and surprises. So, if I don't accomplish all of my objectives, I just prioritize them for the next day.

In the evening, I take some time to reflect and think about all that transpired. I will also update my to-do list, which is something that I put together at the beginning of every week. I'll cross off the things that I did and then add new tasks. My to-do list is the way I organize my week and priorities. For me, it is invaluable.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A leadership lesson I have recently been reminded of is the importance of listening. Part of being a great leader is realizing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses. By listening to and embracing others' ideas, leaders can develop solutions to solve challenges in ways they never imagined. As a leader, part of your job is to surround yourself with and listen to those with complementary knowledge. No one knows everything. Part of being a leader is knowing when to lead and when to step aside and let someone else shine.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The book, "Tiny Beautiful Things," by Cheryl Strayed has deeply impacted me as a leader. Strayed's overall approach is that we must acknowledge and appreciate life's tiny, little moments. This is true in both our personal and professional lives. As a leader, I look to celebrate the small successes as well as the major milestones my team achieves.

I have come to appreciate that we often learn much more from the little things we do than from the big things we spend days, weeks, months, or even years trying to accomplish. It's these microlessons that have a long-lasting impact, ultimately helping us grow in ways we never imagined.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

View every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. It's important to acknowledge and celebrate success, regardless of whether the accomplishment is big or small. A small accomplishment to one person may be a big one to another. Adopt this approach for yourself, your team, and your subordinates.

Don't criticize an employee for failing to achieve their objectives; work with them to understand why it didn't work out as planned. Focus on the lessons learned instead of the objectives that were not met. Ultimately, try to position the failure as a success with lessons learned from it. Clearly, this is not always possible, but do it when you can.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

The most meaningful story for me involves the phrase, "Thank You." In my first job out of college, my boss thanked me for everything that I did. At the time, it seemed a bit crazy as it often felt like every other sentence was one of gratitude. As I have advanced in my career, I have come to appreciate the importance of these two small words for myself and everyone around me.

Without a doubt, thanking people for their help and support is one of the most important things to do as a leader. Everyone deserves to be thanked, regardless of whether they are your direct report or your superior. By thanking someone, you show you appreciate them and the effort they put forth to help you.

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