Last night, the Golden State Warriors capped an impressive comeback–in the game, and in its entire series against the Oklahoma City Thunder–to advance to the NBA Finals.

One of the bigger reasons the defending champion Warriors were able to bounce back from a 3-1 series hole: the team’s ability to pass the ball to the open man. It’s pretty tough to stop a squad with five point guards on the floor, which is what the Warriors resemble when they’re clicking on all cylinders.

From a communications standpoint, that kind of selflessness can do similar wonders. A few weeks ago, it took the form of a highly regarded professional pouring all her energy toward shining a light on others.

The setting: a meeting of the Chicago chapter of the Urban Land Institute–more specifically, a gathering of the Women’s Leadership Initiative. My role was to write a summary of the remarks. The quarterback of the event, “Leadership in a Changing Real Estate Environment,” was Pam Boneham of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers.

Pam Boneham

With an impressive background that qualified her to speak at length on the topics at hand, Boneham on this evening embraced the role of facilitator. In basketball parlance, she distributed the ball liberally to her teammates. And it was with good reason: she was accompanied by extreme talent–Lynn Carlton of HOK, Lynn Cherney of Spencer Stuart, Mary Ann King of Moran & Company, and Amy Price of Bentall Kennedy U.S.

Just the same, when surrounded by so many peers of considerable accomplishment, the temptation is strong to flex your own intellectual muscle and demonstrate your own expertise. To her credit, Boneham practiced a minimalist approach to her role: she posed brief questions, said “thank you” to the responses, and kept the momentum rolling throughout the hour-long event at The Hotel Langham.

The experience revealed a rare trait: the ability to lead without having to be in the limelight.

There were no rambling prefaces to questions, no long-winded interjections about her thoughts on a given topic, no gratuitous references to her own expertise. In short, Boneham got out of the way. She understood her role and set an example for anyone else paying attention who may serve as a moderator in the future.

Afterwards, I let Boneham know that she was one of the best moderators I had ever encountered. Unsurprisingly, she graciously expressed thanks–then lined up another speaker for me to coordinate a video snippet that helped draw attention to my written summary of the panel discussion.

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ULI Update: Writing About the Future of Retail

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