A fireside conversation with a recent Rise Women in Broadcast Award nominee provided a host of key insights into the strategies of effective leadership that provide food for thought into 2024 and beyond, reports Mark Mayne.
In a final webinar to close out 2023, IBC365 held a fireside chat-style discussion with recent Rise Women in Broadcast Award nominee Abi Hemingway, Managing Director, Jackshoot to tease out some of the key questions around leadership. While few would disagree that good, effective leadership is central to business success, defining exactly what that ‘looks like’ for any particular enterprise is a much more complex question.
Hemingway began logically, by tackling a definition of leadership itself. “Lots of people do consider leadership to be at a very high level - country or government level - or the top of a huge organisation, but every day we have leaders in our lives.
“Whether it’s teachers as children or [your] parents, and as soon as you start a job and you have a boss, you immediately have a leader. Some are good or bad managers or people who have to set a vision and inspire their workforce. For me, a leader is somebody with compassion, he puts people first and that’s often an overlooked quality, I think of a leader.
It’s trendy now as a leadership topic to talk about compassion, but I think the greatest leaders have always had that at the heart. So a leader to me is somebody who actually cares for the people that they are leading.”
Beating Failure and Building Confidence
She continued to unpack her take on the key leadership qualities that are necessary in a modern media business, such as how to tackle failure and build confidence within a team. “When you’re trying to empower a team, I think the most critical thing is respect and trust, and building that relationship with people that you work with. Especially for junior or newcomers to the industry, broadcast is a really scary place because it either works or it doesn’t. The failure can be very impactful, as the screen goes black or a test card comes back or the sound goes - it’s a very visceral reaction when it happens, because it’s a disaster. There’s no getting away from it!
“I think giving [newcomers] the confidence, showing them how we prepare for a broadcast… We try to mitigate against any possible risks, and part of that is the culture of taking our teams through the preparation stages and thinking through every possible outcome, every possible risk and working around it.”
I often say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Enabling people to be vulnerable and say, ‘I don’t know that’ - there’s no judgement. We just fixed the fact that they don’t have that skill, [you then] show them, explain it or help them do it. But the most important thing is you’re building confidence in them to reach out when they don’t know something. So as a leader, I think encouraging vulnerability [is very important].”
Developing a Sense of Team
Hemingway and webinar moderator Keran Boyd, Research Analyst, Caretta Research moved on to discuss the debilitating effects of impostor syndrome, and how to overcome it in a business context, before tackling the vast topics of communication and collaboration.
“Obviously, working in technology, we have a mandate to have the latest technology hacks to build efficiency and team culture. We’ve found some really great tools that work for us and it’s important to just find one that works for you and your organisation.
“We do find sometimes we’re awash with different channels, it might be Slack or WhatsApp or instant message, there’s just so many options. We found it helped us to categorise the channels or the platforms that work for certain situations. So we tend to have internal urgent comms on iMessage but WhatsApp is a more general use. Again, that’s a key part of leadership: collaboration.
So I will often frame a response to a client and then let the team add to it, pick other things they would add to it, then they handle that. It’s just a real collaboration that really fosters teamwork, and a sense of belonging, a sense of team.”
A final closing thought from Hemingway set out just why leadership and people skills have to be at the heart of any successful business or enterprise: “Technology is nothing without people. That’s an argument that’s coming through strongly with AI and developing technologies, because people see it as a binary choice, technology or people, but of course people have to operate the tech, people to build the tech. I think [you have to] approach it as people first. Technology will come and go, but what’s going to remain is people, regardless of the technology.”
Watch the Essential traits of a technology leader in a modern media organisation on demand now, and get the full range of insights from the conversation. Alternatively, check out the full on-demand IBC webinar catalogue and/or register for any upcoming IBC 2023 webinar topics that appeal.
Read more IBC365’s 2023 webinar programme