Leadership

Shooting

The challenge no manager wants: Leading an organization through its grief

Screen shot, WDBJ

Jeff Marks, the General Manager of WDBJ, and anchor Kimberly McBroom (Screen shot, WDBJ)

No manager gets out of bed in the morning expecting to have two of his staffers murdered.

By a former station employee.

On live TV.

But that’s what happened to Jeff Marks, the General Manager of WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. In the seconds it took for a man with a gun to fatally shoot a reporter and photographer, Marks’ role changed. Suddenly a man responsible for running his company’s broadcast business was called upon to lead an organization through a nightmare.

It is a job without a ready-made script. There are lots of expert suggestions, but ultimately, the leader has to choose.

In the hours that followed, Marks went on the air to announce the deaths of reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward. Read more

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Managers, use that ‘You’re a Fraud’ voice in your head to become a better leader

Did anyone out there wake up this morning convinced that today was “The Day?”

The day they discovered you don’t know what you’re talking about?

I did.

Fact is, I wake up on many mornings feeling that way. And I’m not alone. Whenever I ask a group of managers whether they ever start their day with a crisis of confidence, they overwhelmingly say yes.

And when I ask them what they would most like to take home from the seminar or workshop, increasing numbers of them — no matter how experienced they are — say they would like to be more confident.

Ah, insecurity. It isn’t enough that managers have to deal, every day, with unpredictable news developments and wave after wave of change. They also have to deal with that little voice inside their heads that say, “You’re going to mess this up.”

One way to deal with the fear is to just live with it, taking comfort that many creative people suffer from insecurity. Read more

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Leaders, want to increase the impact of your decisions? Shoot for ‘two-fers’

(Image created by Deposit Photo)

(Image created by Deposit Photo)

The other day I was in the supermarket, critiquing the blueberries, when I noticed the price: buy 1 pint, get 1 pint free.

That’s what I call a “two-fer” — two for the price of one. (I bought two pints.)

Later I stopped by the local convenience store for coffee and another sign caught my eye: buy any breakfast sandwich and get the second free.

Another two-fer. (In an unusual show of restraint, I paid for the coffee and fled.)

The whole “two-fer” thing got me thinking about some of the best leaders I’ve known and how they regularly turn the fruits of one good decision into something more – often something even more important.

They know how to get two-fers. Read more

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You can now apply for the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media

Applications are now open for the Online News Association-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, which will take place on April 12 to April 17 at Poynter in St. Petersburg, Florida. The academy is tuition-free, and 25 women will be chosen.

Teaching at the academy will be Facebook’s Liz Heron, S. Mitra Kalita of Quartz, Google News Lab’s Olivia Ma and Poynter’s Kelly McBride.

Here’s the application.

“I wish I had a program like this available to me early in my career,” said McBride in a press release. “It’s about time that we did something to address to documented barriers women face as they try to climb to the highest levels of leadership in media companies.”

From the press release:

Individual workshops will explore effective management styles, understanding journalism business models, navigating newsroom and digital culture, staying on top of technology trends, building entrepreneurial and collaborative teams, managing across differences, and coaching critical thinking.

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Managers: 4 things to check before the year ends

time-managementAs the year winds down, it’s a good time for managers to step back for a little review and reflection. I suggest that you check areas that are time-sensitive as well as those that are timeless leadership responsibilities and opportunities.

You’re busy, of course, so I’ll keep the list concise:

  • Look at your budget. Is there any use-it-or-lose-it money that will evaporate at the end of December? If so, how might you creatively put that to work in a hurry? While you are scanning your financial records, review your spending categories. Are you seeing any trends, any surprises during this calendar year? What does it tell you about planning and priorities? How might that guide your future decision-making?
  • Look at your team. Who hasn’t had some quality time with you in a while?
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How to manage a ‘newsroom star’ and keep everyone happy

This is the core message of my teaching: The most important things leaders do is help other people succeed.

So what happens when they indeed succeed, and in a really big way? What’s your responsibility when a member of your team builds a massive fan base, wins coveted awards, or rakes in high revenues for your organization?

Congratulations, You get to manage a star – with all the joys and challenges that accompany that responsibility.

I hope I haven’t frightened you.

Not all stars are problematic, although recent high profile management/star conflicts (Jian Ghomeshi, Bill Simmons, Don Surber) might leave that impression.

How stars wield the clout born of their contributions determines whether they’re what I call “low maintenance” or “high maintenance.”

Low maintenance stars are collegial, productive, interested in the organization as well as themselves, and committed to core values including integrity and quality. Read more

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Listening

Be a Better Listener in 3 Minutes

I work with managers and non-managers alike who want to become better at listening. I’ve read books on it, written columns, and teach sessions on the essentials of the skill.

And then I met journalist E. S. Isaac of India and got a better education on what it means to truly listen.

During a dinner conversation before a week-long leadership seminar at Poynter, Isaac shared his insights. He grew up in rural Chhattisgarh, in Central India. His parents were illiterate. But his father, Benbarisi Isaac, was his best teacher.

I found what E. S. Isaac said — and how he said it — to be so meaningful that I asked his permission to record and share his thoughts.

I think this will be the best three minutes you spend today. Read more

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8 Tips for Techno-Evangelists

Modern wireless technology and social mediaJournalism and technology don’t always go together very well.

I think there’s a natural conflict between the gathering of news and information and the various means of packaging and distributing it. This conflict is especially challenging for newsroom managers. On one hand, they want to focus on the journalism; on the other, they need to stay aware of technological changes and motivate their staffs to try new digital tools.

Newsroom leaders need to be evangelists for change — and that includes technological change. They need to better understand the role of technology adoption within their organizations as the means of gathering and sharing news shifts at an increasing rate.

The rate of technology adoption is critical to the success of news organizations, which is why we are embarking on new research about the topic, starting with a survey of journalists, educators, students and others. Read more

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What breaking news reveals about your newsroom culture

Here’s what a lifetime in journalism has taught me: Breaking news reveals the true character of a newsroom’s culture and quality.

Spot news success happens in cultures with specific systems, skills, values, mindsets – and leadership.

In the healthiest cultures, when news breaks, here’s what staffers can count on:

  • We have a plan. We don’t have to scramble to figure out how to respond each time a big story breaks. Everyone on our team has an understanding of the key roles that need to be filled – both in the field and at the mother ship. We automatically call in and report for duty. We adapt the basic plan by situation and story, and we’re never caught flat-footed.
  • It doesn’t matter if our boss is on vacation.
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5 reasons managers are addicted to “fixing” – and how to recover

I admit it. I’m a recovering fixer. Show me a piece of copy and my fingers get itchy. I crave contact with a keyboard, with a gnawing urge to tweak someone’s writing a little — or maybe a lot.

Then I remind myself of the pledge I took years ago:

“Remember, Jill. Sit on your hands. Coach, don’t fix.”

I adopted that mantra so I’d have to learn how to help my newsroom staff improve their work without taking away their ownership, responsibility, and too often, their pride in performance. I’d have to learn to teach, not just do. Moreover, I’d need to teach in a way that would help people discover ideas and approaches for themselves, instead of just following instructions from the boss. Read more

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