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The 'Four Ps' of Great Media Leadership


Successful leaders work to deepen their employees' skills and help them gain new competencies.  Above all, good leaders are great coaches in variable situations, according to Eluem Emeka Izeze, Managing Director of Guardian newspaper in Nigeria. 


“The leadership challenges are essentially three-fold: First, the leader should deliver news promptly ... at a time when the initiative is no longer solely within his grasp, when quality news and its delivery are being redefined constantly by many new entrants like bloggers, and, of course, news consumers," says Izeze, who for several years also served as Editor in Chief of the Guardian.

"Second, the leader is challenged to deliver value to the readers or listeners at a time when there are many more outlets than ever before. Third, the leader must deliver returns to the owners of his media house at a time of contracting economic space,” Izeze, who is currently on the board of The Media Project, observes.    

There are no easy solutions to these challenges, in Izeze's view.  Most media leaders think the magic wand is becoming more technologically savvy, sharpening competitive strategies, or investing more in the business.

But Izeze emphasizes instead the importance of people and principles.

Mr. Izeze highlighted the words of Monique Valcour, Professor of Management at EDHEC Business School, France, from her recent article in the Harvard Business Review. The article argues that to succeed in today's corporate world, leaders, including those in the media, must attract good resources to their organizations and to themselves in particular. 

Such leaders do not compromise on performance, Mr. Izeze continued, paraphrasing Vaclour, but instead set strict parameters to drive good output. They take time to harness the contributions of employees. They seek and create new opportunities for the employees to learn and be developed further. 

Valcour points out that 90 per cent of the training many workers experience takes place on the job. This is facilitated by giving them new challenges, sending them on new assignments, and taking time to mentor them.

Izeze highlighted Valcour's finding that leaders who get the best result out of employees are those who show they care about the staff and develop a healthy curiosity about their employees. 

Put together, outstanding media organizations are those with horizontal structures, organized in teams of equals, engendering healthy competition, and yet facilitate upward mobility for top performers. In essence, the leadership challenge in today's media landscape is for such leaders to model excellence.

But Izeze also believes that excellence is weakened when it is not entrenched in principles of right conduct, where a system of moral values makes it imperative to stress the concept of what is right and wrong behavior.  It is for this reason that today's leaders are expected to model the highest standards of ethical behavior. They must learn to do what is right even under pressure, and when an alternative option may appear very attractive. 

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