At the recent PPA Festival, there was a panel session on leadership – ‘Best-laid plans: leadership strategies for turbulent times’. Chaired by Harmsworth Media CEO Nina Wright, the panel was made up of Nicola Bates (CEO at Autovia), Nicky Holt (MD, Commercial, Bauer Media) and Charles Reed (CEO, William Reed).
Listening to them, it seemed to me that the ‘E’ in ‘CEO’ should stand for ‘Enabling’. Modern leadership is all about enabling success, about giving the teams the direction, space and tools to excel.
Specifically, leaders of publishing companies need to:
- Know which horses to back. They need to be able to filter out the noise, decide which projects to support and which to drop, and then double down on those. This will involve hard choices, but if done right and communicated properly to all staff with an accompanying vision, then such decisions set a clear and energising sense of direction for everyone.
- Create the conditions for people to do their job really well. This will mean providing good working conditions, a clear sense of direction, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, training and career support, and the right tools for the job.
- Create a safe space for people to experiment. This means fostering and creating a framework for a ‘test & learn’ culture and engendering a healthy respect for ‘failure’. Companies that don’t try new things can’t develop yet not all new things work. Failure is a necessary step on the road to success. Good leaders know how to handle it.
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