Leadership Advice

Managers: Here’s why your messages fall flat, create fear, or confuse people

Today’s leadership lesson is a quick read with a quick communication tip. To ensure that your messages have the impact you’d like, make certain to apply the power of “here’s why.” Some examples: Positive feedback. “Great job” is nice. “Great job… and here’s why…” with specific details, makes it more likely your praise will be…

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Managers: Here are a dozen ways you’re wasting someone’s time today

Do you know any leader who isn’t chronically busy today, yourself included?  Even if you’re keeping up with your responsibilities, you probably long for time to just pause and think.  You deserve it. All leaders do. We need time to learn. Time to rest our brain so new ideas can bubble up without distraction. Time…

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Leaders: Here’s a simple hack to improve your communication

Whether an organization is big or small, people often complain about communication from above. They’re less concerned with whether their leaders are gifted writers or orators (it’s a lovely bonus, but not mandatory) than whether they get the information they need when they need it. In worst case scenarios, managers hoard information as a form…

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How do I know when it’s time to leave?

Are you considering leaving journalism or your job? Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership, discusses the questions to ask those who are considering an exit from journalism. Share what’s on your mind — anonymously, if you’d like — and help…

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Leaders, don’t neglect this management 101 task for 2022

Whenever I hear people suggest that being a leader is somehow more lofty, more important than being a manager, I cringe. When it comes to newsroom life, you need to be a leader who knows how to manage. I like to point out that no matter how principled, innovative, and inspirational bosses are, they’ll kill…

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Let’s replace the term ‘work-life balance’

I stopped using the term “work-life balance” years ago, and not because I think our lives should be dominated by our jobs. I prefer “work-life harmony.”  Here’s why: Words matter. Balance suggests equal weight on both sides of a scale. If 50-50 defines our goal, we’re set up to fail. For every hour of work,…

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Coaching tip for managers: Remember ‘Q before A’

As a manager, you’re expected to have answers, solutions, and advice for people. Your guidance helps ensure quality. You enjoy being a problem-solver. It’s satisfying to know people rely on you. But there’s a difference between telling people what to do — that’s fixing — and helping people discover ideas and solutions. That’s coaching.  Coaching…

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7 ways to outsmart ‘Imposter Syndrome’

Do you occasionally (or often) hear a little voice that whispers, “Today’s the day they figure out I don’t really deserve this job?” People refer to it as “imposter syndrome.” Actually, the two graduate students who pioneered this field of study back in the late ’70s dubbed it “imposter phenomenon” – because it isn’t some…

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8 ways managers make people feel unimportant

There are important conversations going on in workplaces today about employee engagement.  What does — or doesn’t — cause people to give their best efforts, brainstorm solutions, and look out for others?  What makes them feel they truly belong on the team and are proud to be there? Fair pay is important, of course. But…

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Managers: Take a few minutes to talk about nothing special

A recent New York Times article struck me as truly sad. “If you never met your co-workers in person, did you even work there?” shares stories of people who started remote jobs during the pandemic, never made deep personal connections, and quit. One of my favorite leadership scholars sums it up neatly: “If you’re in…

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Say goodbye with grace

The “Great Resignation” is real. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 4 million workers quit their jobs in June of this year, a big jump over 2020. People who were hunkered down during the pandemic, reluctant to switch jobs as the world was in disarray, are making changes in their lives. Journalists…

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When one team works for many — learn how to become the ‘favorite’

There’s a special place in my heart for teams whose expertise supports multiple others across an organization: IT, marketing/communications, design, research, legal, operations, HR, maintenance. On any given day, these professionals get assignments, inquiries, requests, and yes, even demands — from other teams, including yours. Working for and with a variety of departments brings a…

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Managers: Your words matter, so avoid these

When you become a manager, your words have greater impact than you know. Your specific and sincere praise can make someone’s day. Your criticisms can burn more than you know.  Your language also defines your leadership style, for better or worse. To avoid the “worse” option, I suggest you avoid these statements: There are lots…

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Managers: What do your meetings say about your culture?

You can learn a lot about a team’s culture simply by watching how their meetings run. You might be too accustomed to your own habits (that’s what culture is about) to see what an outsider would. But imagine for a moment that someone is taking notes on how things go. How do people relate to…

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Managers: 4 important things to remember about difficult conversations

Managers often struggle with difficult conversations. They put off talking about performance issues because they don’t feel fully prepared, don’t believe it will make things better, or just don’t like confrontation. We’re not helping people when we keep our concerns to ourselves; we’re denying people a chance to learn and grow. It doesn’t mean they’ll…

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Managers: Does your team play well with others?

You know my mantra: The most important thing leaders do is help others succeed. To achieve that goal, managers coach people on performance, provide ongoing feedback, listen to their hopes and fears, and challenge them with stretch assignments.  There’s another thing they should do that managers sometimes miss: set clear expectations about collaboration across teams,…

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Going hybrid? 3 values to help guide you and your team through this transition

Some of your team members can’t wait to regroup in your headquarters. Others hope to work remotely. As you create your post-pandemic work structure, you are navigating a number of important goals: high quality in whatever you produce, high performance on your staff (both individuals and teams), growth and innovation, and engaged employees who enjoy…

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Three ways to say ‘no’ – shamelessly

The pandemic has caused many of us to rethink our time and priorities. People are leaving jobs, learning new skills, moving, asking for re-designed work arrangements, and questioning their previous business travel habits. As we settle in to “new normal” patterns at work and in our personal lives, we may find ourselves wanting to decline…

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4 must-have skills for today’s managers

In 2020, managers had to lead instant change, driven by the pandemic. For some it was a smoother process than others because of their talent for helping people navigate new skills and survive new stresses. For those less adept, their teams paid the price in terms of quality, productivity, and morale. Now change is upon…

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5 keys to a ‘high-performing happy hybrid’ culture

I’ve worked with lots of media leaders and teams who wanted to upgrade their cultures. They wanted to improve things like breaking news/big story dominance, or multi-platform production and delivery, or audience-centric focus — and bake it into the culture. Or they wanted to foster workplace environments where communication and feedback, diversity, equity, and inclusion, collaboration, or respect and…

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Great bosses avoid ‘one-size-fits-all’ feedback

Feedback is one of the most important tools in a manager’s toolkit, and too often, it is underutilized. It’s not just that bosses withhold it — although sadly, some do — it’s that those who dispense it need to upgrade it. To understand what I mean, here’s my definition of this critical tool: Feedback is…

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You, your boss and your staff: Who’s talking to whom?

Here’s a quick quiz for managers: You see one of your team members having a conversation with YOUR boss. Is your response: I’m uncomfortable because I fear that staffer is doing an end run around me I’m curious about what they’re discussing, but not concerned about it I’m glad to see people getting time and…

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Rule number one of managing your boss — and why it matters

Staffers and managers have this in common: They both have bosses. In organizations, everyone reports to someone. Even the CEO has a board to reckon with.  Relationships with those bosses are important, and most managers are “manageable” — if you care to invest the time and effort.  I hope you do. Learn how to communicate…

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To lead or to follow: What role should leaders play in important gatherings?

When news organizations plan workshops on improving culture, communication, conflict resolution, change or other aspects of organizational life, managers sometimes struggle with one well-intentioned question:  “What role, if any, should I play? Is there a chance my presence will keep people from speaking candidly? Might things go better without me there?” I appreciate that they…

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So you’re considering becoming a manager: 6 things to know

When your bosses ask you to join their ranks, it’s generally considered a good thing. It means people appreciate the quality of your work and your ideas. They may have observed your influence on others as an informal leader. They’re willing to bet that you can build on that base talent and goodwill through a…

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7 reasons job candidates turn you down (and employees leave)

A promising job candidate turned down your offer. You’re frustrated, of course, especially if that person politely declined but didn’t elaborate on their reasons, even when you pressed.  What went wrong with the courtship? Why did you get all the way to the altar, only to be abandoned before the “I do”? It’s always possible…

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Managers: How to be a ‘strategic interrupter’

Growing up, you may have been admonished by family or teachers that it is rude to interrupt people. It is.  And yet we do it. (*Points at self*) We have our reasons for interrupting others, not all of them bad. But even the good-to-neutral ones have downsides and must be managed carefully. Let’s review reasons,…

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A friendly communication reminder to managers

Here’s a truth that will surprise no one in journalism. Media organizations — filled with professional communicators — often do a poor job of communicating with staff. It’s a challenge in the best of times, and it’s even more complicated, clumsy and error prone these days. People are dispersed. Our virtual meetings range from effective…

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Managers: What’s the secret to being ‘approachable’?

As a manager, it’s good to be known as smart and results-oriented; to have people respect your knowledge and track record. But accomplished leaders can be intimidating to others – and not even know it. They find out when their company does a culture survey, 360 feedback, or from someone on their team who just…

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Managers: Avoid these mistakes when identifying ‘emerging leaders’

If ever there was a time to focus on up-and-coming talent in news leadership, this is it. Specifically, it’s time to re-think how we bless certain people as “emerging leaders.” If the media industry had been doing it right, its management ranks would be far more diverse and better than they are today.  So, let’s…

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How do you define ‘high performers’?

I asked a recent class of managers to think about some high performers on their teams. One of the participants asked: “How do you define a high performer?” Her question was driven by a concern that managers may have very subjective views on performance. For example, she said, what about bosses who judge people by…

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How to push back productively

We’re in a conversation or brainstorming session and it happens: We push back on peoples’ ideas with skeptical questions, enumeration of obstacles, lists of things that are more important, or even arguments about validity. When I wrote recently about “automatic pushback” — how to anticipate and respond to it, I heard from a lot of…

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Managers: How to deal with ‘automatic pushback’

I’m here today to save you some headaches and heartburn, the kind that arise when you feel weighed down by opposition and negativity. Ready for some preventive medicine? Read on: As a manager, you have the joy — and challenge — of introducing new ideas, duties, assignments and projects to your staff members. In your…

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What are key differences between good and bad managers?

In seminars, I’ve asked people to think about the best bosses they ever worked for.  We list their skills, qualities and values. Inevitably, the chart includes: Vision Knowledge Ethics Emotional intelligence Courage Communication Inclusion Humor Teaching/coaching Encouragement High standards  Team builder Honesty It’s not uncommon for people to point out that they also learned from…

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Manager-to-Manager: Are you a collaborator or a competitor?

In an ideal world, managers look out for each other. They understand one another’s responsibilities, joys and challenges. They are inclined to say yes to requests for help. They communicate clearly, so everyone’s viewpoints are understood, even when they conflict.  And they do conflict. Resources may be limited. Visions of success might differ.  One manager’s…

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Make better decisions: 4 ways to be your own coach

Every decision we make requires us to size up a situation.  Sometimes we have the benefit of empirical data. But often, we rely on a combination of experience, expectations, assumptions and — because we’re human — a little emotion.  Here are some examples: You’ve applied for a job. The interview seemed to go well. Four…

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Leaders: Never forget your power to make someone’s day

When leaders tell me about a high-performing employee or a boss they admire, I often respond with a question: “Have you told that person what you just told me?” Often, the response is, “You know, I really should do that.” For whatever reason — they’re busy, they assume good people know they’re good, or they…

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Newsroom leaders: How to help your team cope

I spent the weekend trying to prepare for teaching this week on allyship. It was nearly impossible to concentrate. Like anyone in journalism, I couldn’t disconnect from the unfolding news about the assault on the Capitol. Every new image adds layers of information. But they also have a remarkable consistency.  The insurrectionists radiated hate. Let…

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Newsroom leaders: Be big, bold, empathetic and angry

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership My local paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, used a one word headline to describe January 6, 2021: Insurrection. It was big, bold and accurate. That’s what we need from news leaders right now:…

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The Leadership Class of 2020: 10 lessons learned

If experience is a great teacher, then our annus horribilis was a graduate course in leading through change and challenge.  Consider this column a commencement address for the Leadership Class of 2020, recognizing the good work accomplished, the stress endured, but most important: the lessons learned.   Here are ten of them, dear graduates: When it…

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Leaders: We have a lot of catching up to do

To lead is to take the long view while never losing sight of today. You build systems and hire good people to ensure the daily efforts run as smoothly and successfully as possible. You check in to make sure that we’re doing well in the moment — but at the same time, you are looking…

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The secret to inspiring leadership

I’ve been asked by managers to help them find the way to become an inspiring leader. Those who ask are usually concerned that they lack charisma or oratorical skills. You don’t necessarily need either to inspire others. They can help, but are not what’s at the core of inspiration. Here’s the secret: It’s love. Think…

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Lead like it is January

News managers, I’m sure you’ve thanked your crews by now. You’ve sent people off to get some rest. You’ve taken note of every smart thing you’ve done in covering this year’s election. You’re doing an after-action review of lessons learned. I’m here to nudge you further into the future. Start working right now as though…

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How the Big Story brings out our best

You’re busy working on election coverage, so I’ll keep this brief.  Knowing what others need is the secret to great teamwork during big stories and breaking news. That’s why we: Communicate with clarity and speed. Stay focused on what matters. Double check our work, our gear, and our assumptions. Set aside petty differences in service…

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Managers, it’s Election ‘Murphy’ time

Think about a time you couldn’t wait to come to work. What was the story, the project, the event that was so motivating? Whenever I ask that question in my news management workshops, one answer always surfaces: Election Day. So many factors come together to cause journalists to work with rigor, resilience and joy. No…

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The 10 truths about planning

Planning and long-term thinking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. There are people who love lists and others who thrive on serendipity. Newsrooms are often influenced by the preferences of their leaders, for better or worse.  Here’s a warning: If you’re a manager who likes to make decisions on the fly and feels constricted by calendars,…

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Great leaders close the loop

Here’s a quick way to raise your credibility as a manager: learn to “close the loop.” Closing the loop means providing answers to requests or inquiries as quickly as possible, especially when they are communicated to you by email, text or chat. When you’re known for closing the loop, you don’t leave people to wonder…

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Could I have a word with you about your manager?

This is a message to everyone who has a manager.  First, let me start by thanking you for all you are doing for journalism in this moment.  And let’s not kid ourselves. It isn’t a moment. It’s more of an epoch, defined by a relentless confluence of critical stories that are at once inspiring and…

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How newsroom leaders are reinventing praise and celebrations (remotely)

How many times can you say “thank you” or “good work” during Zoom calls with your staff before these two terms become stale and meaningless? That’s a question in the minds of many leaders already facing enormous challenges in leading their newsrooms during a COVID-19 pandemic, a reinvigorated social rights movement, and the most acute…

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Leaders use the power of intentionality

It’s easy to set goals. It’s harder to make commitments. When you do the latter, it’s a promise, not a hope. To keep your promises, you must be intentional. And that’s powerful. Here’s what intentionality looks like in action. When you’re intentional about providing feedback, you’re vigilant about including it into your daily interactions with…

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‘Watching people succeed’: What brings managers joy

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership One of the first things newly promoted managers realize is how little control they have of their time. They’re managing up, down and sideways, and all of those connections (bosses, staff and management…

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‘It’s about them winning, not you’: What brings managers joy

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership To be a manager is to be entrusted with power. How you use it can define both your success and your happiness. That’s the clear message in the responses I received when I…

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What brings managers joy: ‘Run through walls’

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership People are usually promoted to management because they’ve done well at their frontline jobs. But what made them good reporters, photographers or producers doesn’t necessarily make them good managers. It takes a whole…

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‘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…

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What makes managers happy: ‘I love seeing employees grow’

Advice from Jill Geisler,Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University ChicagoFreedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership Over the Labor Day weekend, I asked my friends on social media a simple question: Managers, what brings you happiness at work? Their responses weren’t about power, pay or prestige. The message they surfaced repeatedly was about…

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Are you a great middle manager?

They’re called mid-level managers, but they are so much more. On any given day, they are: The translators of upper level management’s messages The first line of feedback to employees who crave it The wizards of workarounds when plans or tools fail The mediators of conflicts The protectors of quality The hiring scouts The supply…

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To be an ally, you can’t just hold others to account

Trust is the glue that binds relationships. It’s an essential component of leadership. It’s the fuel that drives high-performing teams.  Trust is confidence, in the face of risk, that the other person will do the right thing.  Trust is also essential to earning the title of “ally,” because an ally is a trusted force for…

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A voice or a vote? Great leaders help teams exercise influence

I’ve heard the word “vote” so many times these days that it made me think of how that word plays out in the workplace. Employees understand that workplaces are not necessarily democracies. People in management are empowered and obligated to make decisions. They involve strategy, personnel, policies, partnerships and budgets. Managers are expected to spend…

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Ode to a leader’s love

To download this poem, click here. Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership Click here to read Jill’s previous posts. Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter, including Jill’s advice.

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To fight systemic inequity, look up

To fight systemic inequity in organizations, it’s not enough to look at front line managers. Look up. Scrutinize the marching orders they get from the very top — from their organization’s boards, strategists, consultants and budgeters.  Frontline managers aren’t given mandates that overtly say “discriminate, pay unfairly, limit opportunities for staff growth, or under-serve certain…

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Working ‘in the trenches’ during a pandemic

In the trenches. That’s where some of our best work relationships were formed. On field assignments where we got to know each other’s beliefs, strengths and quirks. On big events and breaking news where our focus and purpose led to teamwork, not turf protection. On overnight or weekend shifts where our smaller crews were more…

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Leaders, it’s time for a remote work check

It seems ages ago that journalists moved their work stations from newsrooms to living rooms. Organizations moved quickly to protect their teams during the pandemic and resilient employees adapted.  They made it work.  Good managers keep tabs on their staff’s well-being and the effectiveness of the workflow, so it’s important to keep asking, “Can it…

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Are you an “I’ or a “We” Manager? When and why?

Here’s a quick leadership check for managers: Find the last five memos you sent to your staff.  Read them over, circling the pronouns “I” and “we.” Look at the proportion of “I”s to “we”s. Look at the context in which you chose to use “I” and “we.” At first glance, this exercise is an ego…

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We need connections, not just transactions

I’ve lived the last few months on Zoom, Teams, Meet, Skype, Webex, GotoMeeting, and Whereby.  I’ve communicated with people who were mimes until they remembered to unmute,  with lighting ideal for witnesses in need of protection, and with camera angles that created nostril-oscopys. I’ve slogged through connectivity glitches, calendar conflicts and time-zone confusion. Still, remote…

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Leaders, are you easy to manage?

“Managing the boss” is a session I often teach in leadership workshops. Knowing how to interact with your manager to get the best results for your ideas, projects, and career is an essential skill. Some bosses are easier to manage than others. They tend to be more open about their decision-making process, their goals, and…

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One small, smart message for work-from-home parents

It’s a great video. Dr. Clare Wenham, a professor in Global Health Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science, is being interviewed about COVID-19 data by Christian Fraser on the BBC. Like many parents working from home these days, she’s not alone. Her young daughter makes an appearance. She wants to discuss her…

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Newsroom change must be systemic, not symbolic

The state of Mississippi voted Sunday to replace its state flag, the last in the U.S. to feature the Confederate battle emblem.  Errin Haines, editor-at-large for The 19th whose journalism has focused on the intersection of race, ethnicity, politics and culture, tweeted a response:  “Dismantling systemic racism does not happen in one day or with…

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Leaders protect their teams: Mask up

The country recorded its highest single-day total of coronavirus cases this week. Journalists know that. They’re on the front lines, covering the pandemic. Wearing masks. Even when people they’re reporting on are not. At the same time, an army of fact-checkers — Politifact, Factcheck.org, USA Today, Snopes — has had to knock down falsehoods about…

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A moment for change: Allies can make a difference

This article appeared first on Freedom Forum. Republished with permission. June 19 marks a turning point in American history. It is Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery nationwide. We are at another turning point in our nation’s history, and people of good faith want to be part of that change. This week, the…

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The danger of “paying your dues”

What does “paying your dues” mean in your newsroom, especially when it comes to hiring and promotions?  It’s customarily shorthand for “becoming qualified.” For the job. For the cool assignment. For advancement. But here’s a very troubling truth: When people create job descriptions and hiring criteria –  supposedly objective standards – they’re influenced by personal…

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Don’t stop with protest stories, start covering systemic racism

Journalists are doing a remarkable job of documenting this moment. Even in the face of physical attacks and the health threat of a pandemic, they are delivering compelling images and memorable stories of nationwide protest in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.  The best way to honor that work is to be as…

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Allies know they need to learn; here’s help

The last time I led a “Do You Qualify as an Ally” webinar for the Freedom Forum’s Power Shift Project seems like a lifetime ago.  It was before COVID-19. Before Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.  Before demonstrations across the country. It was February of this year.  So much has happened, yet so much remains…

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You’re covering racial justice; are you heeding diverse voices?

As newsrooms cover two Black Americans, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, their deaths and the aftermath, journalists are making critical decisions. As those stories develop, judgment calls happen in a moment. And as journalists choose words, images, interviewees, focus and context, we know this: a majority of the top managers in newsrooms are white.  You can read about journalism’s…

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Five years from now, how will you look back on this moment?

It is May of 2020. We are marking the loss of 100,000 souls, victims of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Now think ahead five years. It is 2025, and you are being asked about this terrible time. You, the journalist who covered it as you lived it.  What do you remember with pride?…

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Welcome, stranger – joining a new team from afar

How important is onboarding? It’s big, as demonstrated by a Harvard Business Review piece that researched the process and chose this as a headline: “Your New Employees Won’t Succeed Unless You Onboard Them Properly.”  According to the authors, onboarding does more than say hello. Done well, it expedites both social connections and information-sharing. People succeed…

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Work friends matter – even from afar

Friendships motivate us to do more for each other. They ease stress and add laughter. They let us be ourselves and speak candidly. They amplify our pride in a job well done; celebrations are more fun when people we care about are cheering. Friendships happen at work. Or they used to. Here’s how: Lynnette Clemetson sat…

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Good managers are guides, not guards

Leading remote teams demands a lot of managers. You need to be a better communicator than ever. Your emotional intelligence needs to be fine-tuned for each employee’s needs. Even if you hate detail work, you need to be a planner. But here’s one thing you should never be: a high-tech prison guard. Two recent articles make that clear. NPR…

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Beware of ‘recency bias’ in your remote decision-making

Have you ever worked for managers who seemed to make decisions based on what they heard from the last person who talked with them? If so, you know how frustrating it was — and how it led to all kinds of needless jockeying among colleagues to get the last word with the boss. Those supervisors…

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Don’t let social distancing silence shop talk

We gathered eight reporters to talk about how they took a Solutions Journalism approach to their COVID-19 stories. During our Power Shift “Taking Care of Journalists and Journalism” webinar, they explained how to dig deeper for systemic answers to problems like nursing shortages, lack of internet access, racial disparities in health care, and getting help to people who…

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When to give the coach a rest

Whenever I teach managers about coaching and the power of questions, I anticipate this very legitimate question: Are there situations when coaching isn’t the right option, and you should just give people directions? The answer is yes – without a doubt. When should you give coaching a rest and just tell people what to do?…

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Small gestures have big impact on motivation

We interrupt this program for an encouraging word. Journalists are nothing if not resourceful. They adapt to new tools and technology. They endure staff and budget cuts and still produce quality. They find information people want to hide. And now, whether at home, in eerily-underpopulated newsrooms, or from safe-as-we-can-make-them field assignments, they are delivering essential…

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How do you help when someone tells you they’re stressed?

A colleague tells you he’s feeling more stressed as the weeks go by.  Do you: Tell him it’s normal these days and not to worry. Explain what you do when you feel anxious. Ask him to tell you more. Trust me, #3 is your best option. It allows you to be an informed coach, rather…

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Do you practice “connector etiquette”?

The world needs more Connectors these days — more people who network on behalf of others. They link people to share ideas and opportunities; to give or get advice and help. As someone who tries to be a good connector by reaching out to others or responding when they ask to send people my way, I’ve…

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Damn the distance, be a connector

I looked at my email inbox. The top message bore the subject line “Touching Base.” The sender was a friend – someone who attended one of my leadership seminars years ago and keeps in touch. Sometimes he sends an article I might find interesting. Other times he’s looking for info I might provide. Our exchanges…

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Check your idiosyncrasies

We’d like to think we’re very good employees. (Especially when it’s time for annual evaluations, right?) But none of us is perfect. We all have idiosyncrasies. They’re not career killers like dishonesty or gross incompetence. Instead, they’re quirks – the kind of habits our co-workers cope with and work around, especially when we have plenty…

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How to cope when you’re tethered to your desk

I had a Zoom huddle with broadcast and digital news managers of the TEGNA stations group this week. This was an open forum for all who wanted to offer ideas, ask questions, and share status reports about leading during pandemic times. The company offered it for both the learning and the camaraderie. Attendance was voluntary. …

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Check on your editors

This pandemic has produced an abundance of powerful and painful stories. We worry – as we should – about the resilience of the reporters and photographers bearing witness to COVID-19’s impact on human life. Behind those reporters and photographers are editors who make their stories stronger and clearer, more understandable and relatable. They see every…

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Getting Zoomed-out? Tips to make video gatherings more user-friendly

I like Zoom well enough. And wow, have I been using it. In the last two weeks, it’s been my platform for teaching six Loyola Chicago classes, moderating a Power Shift Project webinar, taking part in an advisory board meeting, delivering leadership pep talks for a TV station’s town hall meetings, and leading three training sessions for the Online…

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Brevity is efficient – until it’s deficient

You’re bombarded with communication – text, email, Slack, phone call, Zoom – sometimes all at the same time. When you’re on overload, your written messages may be brief, for efficiency’s sake. But short takes can be misread as dismissive, frustrated, angry or unhappy, when that’s not your intent. Misunderstandings happen when: There’s a power differential. You…

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What phase has your remote team entered?

There’s a classic theory about the life cycle of teams. The late psychology professor Bruce Tuckman coined these memorable terms for team development way back in 1965, and they’re taught to this day: Forming – the group gets going, identifies roles, goals and responsibilities; there’s lots of energy Storming – reality hits; not everything works, people get frustrated…

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Good leadership delivers

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership Leaders need to know the right words for the moment. But on election night, there’s one message journalists treasure most: A tip of the hat to my friend George Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,…

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‘Are you OK?’ Great bosses ask then act

A few columns ago, writing about resilience, I advised managers “In addition to asking ‘What are you doing?’, ask “How are you doing?”  When I write things like that, I sometimes question myself. Isn’t this just stating the obvious? Who wouldn’t know this?  At the same time, I’ve learned never to assume that managers are automatically…

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How to meet the needs of introverts and extroverts from a social distance

There’s a lot of stereotyping around introversion and extroversion on any given day. It can get worse when we apply that thinking to working at a “social distance.” To start: Don’t assume that Introverts are shy or anti-social. They lead meetings, teach classes, make speeches and anchor newscasts (yes, of the many anchors in my leadership…

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How do I provide feedback when I’m barely keeping up with all my work?

I had a talk this weekend with an editor I respect. She’s leading ambitious and ever-expanding coverage of the coronavirus on multiple platforms. Her staff is serving the public’s insatiable appetite for trustworthy news.  But the editor worries that she’s letting her hard-working team down. She can’t keep up with the feedback they deserve.  On…

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Virtual applause to real heroes on your team

We treasure our journalism superstars; the master muckrakers, sense-makers and storytellers. Always will. Now, let’s give some love to a few other newsroom heroes, whose efforts, in the midst of chaos, make everyone better. They lift the team. They lead from wherever they are. Here’s a salute to: The MacGyvers: They are the wizards of…

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Managing the “give” and “get” ledger

Great bosses know that we all keep a mental ledger of what we give to our workplace and what we feel we are getting in return. Here’s what’s interesting about the “give” side of our ledgers: Our “gives” are very clear to us. We keep track of what we’ve done, the degree of difficulty, the extra…

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When WFH means too much ‘give’ and too little ‘get’

For those accustomed to working in a newsroom or classroom, the switch to working from home seemed instantaneous, even miraculous. How did people make the shift so fast, so inventively, so cooperatively?  They drew on their session of mission, their adaptability, and frankly, their desire to have jobs.  Now, they’re doing the best they can…

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When they’re hurting

Your staff is on the front lines of history right now. They are helping the world bear witness to fear and courage, suffering and relief, success and failure, praise and blame –  and relentless tragedy.  They’re doing this under the shadow of several excruciating realities. The tragic stories will increase in the days ahead. Some…

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Work from home Bingo

You’ve mastered social distancing. Adapted your communication habits. Learned that most of your furniture isn’t especially ergonomically friendly. Your eyeballs are rarely off a screen. Your normal quest for perfection is dialed down to “good enough for now.” You miss the sounds and serendipity of the newsroom (the smells, not so much). To remind you…

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You’re an “Instant Editor” – what now?

In crisis coverage, we learn to wear new hats. Beats are shifting, roles are changing – all to meet the needs of the day.  What if you’ve been asked to edit, and you’ve never been an editor before? Trust your journalistic chops and Spidey-sense. If you know what makes a good story and have a…

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How can I show I’m a manager who ‘gets it’?

Why is it that the same message, sent by two different leaders, can be received in different ways — one has impact, the other seems like platitudes?  My grandmother knew. Granny always told us, “Consider the source.” Those three words tell an important story of credibility and trust. Those qualities are critical when leaders are trying…

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‘We are not doctors’: 16 top leaders share tips for supporting their newsrooms

There’s a real hunger for tips, solutions and tribal connections among journalists right now. Why else would hundreds of them, busy as they are, take part in the Power Shift Project’s first “COVID-19: Taking Care of Journalists and Journalism” webinar this week? Sixteen top leaders from all platforms shared practical advice and fielded questions.  We recorded the…

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How do we resolve real conflict in a virtual newsroom?

Here’s a real challenge for virtual teams: distance can reduce empathy. It’s harder to see the world through someone else’s eyes when you don’t often see their face. Here are some truths and tips to reduce conflict and misunderstanding. The more important a message is, the more it benefits from what scholars call the “richest”…

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These are stressful times. How do leaders help us stay resilient?

Resilience isn’t a quality, it’s a journey. It’s measured by the time, effort and energy it takes to move from anxiety to calm, sadness to smiling, self-doubt to confidence and from hurting to healing. It’s important for newsroom leaders to know that this journey varies for each of us – and that can be a…

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Leadership tips for sending messages

Be user-friendly in this TL;DR world — lengthy, gray copy loses eyeballs.  Tell recipients right at the top what the message contains. A bullet point index is a good option. It lets the reader know what to look for and keeps writers focused. Write with authority, humanity and clarity. Maintain an FAQ mindset. As you…

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How should smart managers be looking ahead?

It’s always tempting for managers to focus on today’s report. In crisis, leaders must be looking miles ahead. To that end, some questions for leaders: Are you extending your staffing plans as never before? Think at least 8 weeks ahead. How will you sustain momentum while building in rest for the weary? That includes you….

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Communicating clearly during a crisis

Q: How do I keep my boss informed without driving them crazy while working remotely? A: The easiest way to miscommunicate is to make assumptions about what others want or need. Now’s the time to make everything easier with one question: “What’s the best way to communicate with you — and when?” Get clarity on two types…

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