I sent out several emails to some of my role models in the broadcast industry, particularly in the Phoenix market, for our leadership styles analysis paper. Some are still getting back to me, and a couple of days ago one of my biggest Valley role models responded.
I actually Facebooked Kristin Anderson, one of the anchors and reporters for KSAZ Fox 10 Arizona Morning. She has a heavy social media presence, both on Facebook and Twitter, and I knew I would be able to best reach her this way. When I interned at Fox 10 last spring, she was a friendly presence both in the newsroom and in the field, and I was lucky to shadow her in the field many times. She was a willing leader, and stepped into the role of mentor easily. Kristin had nothing but encouraging and positive words of advice, and thanks to social media I’ve been able to keep in touch with her as she continues to establish herself in Phoenix (she arrived to Arizona Morning in Fall 2010).
My questions for the journalism leaders I interviewed included:
-Who were some of your earliest role models in the industry and out of it?
-How do you define leadership in this industry?
-And what leadership roles have you taken on in the community and in the newsroom?
Kristin is a good example of both a journalism and community leader, and I think I look to her because I am able to relate to her in a variety of ways. Her response to my first question was similar to what mine would have been. She said her dad was her earliest role model, because growing up he made her feel like she could do anything she wanted to do and let her know that she was capable of it, as well. My dad provided this encouragement for me, as well, and as a journalism leader in his own right, showed me that it was possible to go as far as I wanted to when I set my mind to it. These thoughts, in my mind, mirror much of what our goal was in the Legacy Project. We set out to become role models in a way with this project, and I believe we have created something extraordinary that will set the tone for next year’s project, too.
When I asked Kristin about what it means to be a leader in journalism, she responded with the following: “…someone who sets a positive standard professionally and interpersonally. A leader is someone with fresh ideas and continually evolving, always getting better.” This made me think of our setting examples at various events, including the Farm Days event, where we set out to set a positive standard and create a good experience for the children we were volunteering for and with. I agree, too, that a leader is someone with “fresh ideas,” and this brought me back to our Films Presentations, where many groups presented their films in an original way. I particularly think of the School of Rock group, who were well organized and prepared to lead us through their film and its meaning to our particular context.
Lastly, Kristin said that she is fortunate enough to hold a number of leadership roles in the community, but that her favorite is being a mentor to women in the television industry. Having worked with her, I can safely say that she is passionate about her mentorship role, and I think a lot of what I learned about leadership in the newsroom came from working with Kristin and the other strong females in the Fox 10 Arizona Morning newsroom. Likewise, I think this is an important role we can all play in one way or another having taken this class. We learned a lot about leadership from each other and from our own experiences in the Legacy Project and our volunteer projects. These lessons are vital, in my opinion, to our sense of self and our leadership styles.
So I pose the above questions to all of you: what does a journalism leader look like, both in and outside of the newsroom? And what do you think was the most valuable leadership lesson you learned this semester?
It’s been a privilege working with all of you! Thank you for a fantastic semester!
Facebook interview with Kristin Anderson. 26 April 2012.
As we near the end of the semester and the end of our Legacy Project journey, I want share with you some thoughts on motivation and motivational leadership. So much of the last leg of any semester, but especially this one for our graduating seniors (and my capstone/last semester-bound self), is about staying motivated and finishing strong. Once spring break hits, all bets are off, and it’s all about finding what will keep you moving.
The American Management Association has a great article about motivational leadership. Their article states that, “One key characteristic of leaders is that they set high standards of accountability for themselves and for their behaviors.” I think this is especially key in our Legacy Project and has been so far, as the different leaders of each branch of the project work to stay motivated themselves and thus to set a high standard of work and timeliness for the rest of the group. However, no matter how good an example a leader tries to set, there will inevitably be setbacks in any project or situation. The key at this point is how you deal with them.
Motivational leading has at its core five key principles:
1. Vision: According to the article, this is the key principle separating motivational leaders from followers. They say that the best motivation you can have for yourself and your team members is “Be your best!” We cannot simply accept what is better than others, or try to create a website that was “better” than the last one. Rather, we must strive to be the best in our respective groups and to create the best product available.
2. Integrity: The American Management Association describes this as “complete, unflinching honesty,” and ties this back into doing your best. This means when someone asks at the end of the day or the end of the project, “Did you try your hardest?” you will honestly be able to answer them yes or no, without being ashamed of either answer. Truth and communication are key in this principle.
3. Courage: I think it’s safe to say a lot of the effort in the last leg of a semester and in the last stretch of the Legacy Project is the courage to forge onward, despite setbacks or frustrations. This means resisting the urge to “get going by going along,” and adhering to your principles to maintain your integrity. So many of these principles are intertwined, but I personally think courage is at the heart of each of them.
4. Realism: The American Management Association says realism is “a form of intellectual honesty.” This has also been a key factor in the Legacy Project and I know as I organize my final days of the semester, for me as well. You have to be realistic about what you can get done in the amount of time you have, and sometimes this involves sacrificing time in one arena in favor of getting something done in another.
5. Responsibility: They say this is the hardest principle to “obey,” and I am inclined to agree. This involves taking full responsibility for your actions, including what you got done and what you were not able to get done. Sometimes, for me, responsibility is all that motivates me at the end of a semester!
The combination of all these principles allows us to remember what is most important. It is not just a matter of getting it all done, but getting it done with your best effort and being able to say, at the end of the day, that you gave it your full and most honest, courageous effort.
I pose the following questions to everyone: what keeps you motivated in the last stretch of a project or a semester? Is it the end goal? Or is it just the desire to get it done?
Given that March is Women’s History Month, and based on recent blog posts on various leadership blogs, I thought it might be interesting this week to reflect upon the female leaders in our lives. One blog in particular, Lip-Sticking, focuses on women’s issues and women’s roles in society, particularly as leaders and businesswomen. I enjoy it because it often makes me reflect upon how I can be a strong, female leader in my generation and an example for younger generations, especially if I am fortunate enough to one day have a daughter.
One question I have for all of you this week is: what woman in your life do you perceive to be a leader? Do they lead out loud, or in a more silent, powerful manner? I fondly recall one of my high school English professors, a woman named Dr. Conway, who lead in a silent but very powerful way. She was quite the feminist and ever the intellectual, and really spurred my passion for literature into action. She left my sophomore English class with many words of wisdom, including the insight to never feel limited by the roles people saw for us. If men or even other women perceived us a certain way, she dared us to break that mold and show that we were more than what they thought. I always appreciate that one of the ways she saw for us to do this was education, and that she lead by example with a Ph.D in English Literature!
Speaking of perceptions, there was an interesting article posted on Lip-Sticking on March 2 entitled “Copping Out of Opting Out.” It addresses the idea that many women choose to “opt out” of the workplace still in favor of raising children and focusing on family, or taking on other ventures, and that other women often opt out of the professional areas they have come to dominate. This latter category includes women such as Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom recently chose to break out of their comfortable roles in daytime TV, in which they were prominent leaders, to try something new. The author of the article, Yvonne DiVita, goes against what many critics are saying about them now and asserts that just because “their new endeavors are not yet wildly successful, is not to say they don’t still deserve our admiration.”
These women and other powerhouses like them are enduring struggles just as they first did when they entered their original professions. Just because they chose to break out of the roles in which we are comfortable seeing them does not mean we should write them off as failures. Rather, we (men and women alike) should all be so brave to break outside of the mold and past our comfort zone to become leaders in a new field. Even if we fail, we can still lead by example and pick ourselves up again, learning from our mistakes and becoming better people and leaders for it.
So I pose the following questions to the class this week: what women leaders make or made a difference in your life? What kind of leaders are/were they? And what role, if any, do you think you need to or want to break out of in your personal/professional lives? I still sometimes find myself arguing with my mother and grandmother about the concept of “having it all”–a family and a successful professional life, and I’m working to find a balance of both.
Image courtesy www.oprah.com
For the book report portion of our seminar, I chose to read The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action through Narrative by Stephen Denning. As I stated briefly during class yesterday, one of the reasons I chose this book is because it revolves so much around the power of narrative. I am extremely passionate about English literature and, as such, consider the impact of narrative structure and tone on how the reader (or “audience”) perceives the story. Both of these make a huge difference in the type of message delivered through a novel.
However, I had never considered the impact that narrative structure can have in daily life! We each have our own narrative methods–the way we tell stories to our friends and family, the way we present ourselves and our ideas to our bosses and co-workers, and even the way we deal with children to whom we want to convey a certain message. Denning presents many interesting ideas about how we can add to and/or alter our own narrative structures to make our points much clearer and more impactful.
Most of the book focuses on Denning’s ideas of storytelling and story listening. He states that in order to understand an audience, we first need to study them: their likes, dislikes, and what’s at the forefront of their thoughts. We need to ask the question: what is most impacting them right now? Then we need to ask: how can I work that into my narrative for the time when they’re my audience? Denning says that by telling stories the right way and grabbing the audience’s attention, the speaker can deliver their message in such a way that the audience will come to picture themselves as part of the change being spoken about. They come to see themselves as the protagonists of the story and the previous research of the speaker means that the audience can see some of their most relevant and pressing worries as the antagonist.
What I liked most about this book was its accessibility. The language and diction were clear and constructed in such a way that it felt less like he was commanding you to take his advice, and more like he was having a friendly conversation with you. This was especially appropriate given the fact that Denning places such importance on conversation, which he defines as a two-way street, not a one-way alley. Listed below are the fridge quotes I picked out, in order from the book:
- “[Transformational leaders] change the world by generating enduring enthusiasm for a common cause…they don’t just generate followers: their followers themselves become leaders.”
- “Successful leaders communicate very differently from the traditional, abstract approach to communication. In all kinds of settings, they communicate by following a hidden pattern: first, they get attention. Then, they stimulate desire, and only then do they reinforce with reasons…”
- “The task here…[is] about enabling the people in the audience to see possibilities that they have hitherto missed. It means creating the capability in the audience to see for themselves the world and their relations with others in a new and more truthful light.”
- “Conversation is person-to-person—not role-to-role. Conversation is conducted on the same level, one human being to another, not people acting out roles, saying what they’ve been told to say or what’s expected of them…”
- “The way for leaders to continue and accelerate enthusiastic implementation and deepen the relationship is by having regular, ongoing conversations with the people they are leading, about the things going on in their context and how they can address emerging threats or opportunities.”
Above is a video of Stephen Denning talking about leadership and narrative communication. What do you think of his communication style? Does he get your attention, stimulate the desire to create change, and then reinforce it with reasons (his three communication principles)?
While reading The Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning for our book report project, I came across a section on what Denning called the “basics” of PowerPoint. Given our recent emphasis in class on how best to utilize PowerPoint, I thought it might be interesting to share what Denning recommends, versus how we have used PowerPoint throughout our academic careers.
As such, I start with a question for everyone: how have you used PowerPoint in the past? Or similar software, like Prezi? I’ve typically used it for class presentations, all the way from junior high to college, and occassionally for work-related projects in the Honors College office downtown. I’ve usually overloaded slides with text, or tried to alternate between text and pictures, so I was curious how Denning believed my PowerPoint style fit in with my leadership style, and what my PowerPoints were conveying about my intended message.
The general idea behind his book, The Secret Language of Leadership, is to analyze how storytelling can enable better leadership and audience engagement. For the sake of space, I’ll only list a couple of the principles he outlines on his site, but I encourage everyone to look at it. It made me think twice about how something as simple as slide color can change my message!
- “Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!” I’ve always struggled with simplifying, and Denning reminds us of the mantra “less is more.” Slides that try to include everything you know about a topic are overwhelming and far too complex for an audience to digest quickly.
- “Add striking, relevant images.” I think we all did a great job of this this week after discussing it with Dr. Bill last week. Denning says that the image shouldn’t be general or vague, but rather should fit your message and enhance it. He adds that “every drop of ink on the slide needs to be justified.” An interesting thought, and maybe I should ask myself: can I justify the use of this slide, this image, and this word choice?
- “Add color to clarify the meaning.” The background should be neutral enough that your chosen text colors can pop out and emphasize your key points. Interestingly, Denning suggests using textures and gradients to engage the audience, rather than sticking to flat colors that will make your content seem like a part of the background.
These are just a few of Denning’s points, but three of the ones that I feel I need to work on the most. What do you feel are your PowerPoint strengths or weaknesses? Do you think Denning is right in suggesting that content is best presented in short form and/or story form?