Leadership Advice

‘Provoke ideas and let them run’: What motivates managers

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership

In the best case scenario, we succeed at work because of, not in spite of, our managers. The best supervisors see their jobs as far more than hitting targets and making rules. Their idea of winning isn’t about their personal success, it’s about yours. Don’t take my word for it. Read the responses that came from a variety of managers when I sent out a social media request for them to share what they love about their roles.

“I feel very proud when I guide an employee on a project by asking questions and let them find their answers… and the final product is far better than anything I could have thought of, had I just told them what to do…Provoke ideas.. and let them run. The evidence that it’s working is seen in dozens of stories and projects this year that have been remarkable and relatively free of my hands. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning, in spite of the fatigue of 100 days of protests and the never ending coronavirus.” — Gayle Yvonne Simons, News Director, KATU-TV, Portland

“The best thing about leadership for me is being able to help people find opportunities to express themselves in the ways that are best for them. In journalism, that can mean internally — in mentoring conversations or general story-development talks — or externally, as in clearing the way for someone’s voice to be heard (or, more metaphorically, seen) in a public-facing, storytelling way. In either instance, the ability to pass on what I have been given for so long — the extreme privilege of being able to find, assemble and deliver facts and context (and hopefully insight into the human experience) to the public — is to me the best part of being a manager and a leader.” — Ted Anthony, Director of Digital Innovation, Associated Press

“I like setting the tone, and in my business (mostly software start-ups) that means mutual respect and trust at all levels. No “bro” culture, no favoritism. Everyone has a secret power to bring to the table. As long as we create the right culture, those secret powers can supercharge your team.” — Connie Phelps, Sr. VP Strategy, Braid Health, California


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