NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / May 13, 2022 / Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, said about leadership: "When you were made a leader, you weren't given a crown; you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others."
Over the course of his more than 40 years managing large and complex TV newsrooms, David Friend took many cues from Welch. His focus on empowering managers, remaining open to new ideas, and commitment to quality rang true in most situations. Reflecting back on Welch and other leaders from whom he drew inspiration during his time as a senior vice president of local news for a major TV network, David Friend offers five key insights to successful team management.
The Right People In The Right Places
For David Friend, putting the right people in the right jobs was a key component to his success as a newsroom leader. Intentionality and honesty were critical, as not all talented people belong in every position. Skill sets are different, and current priorities can dictate different needs.
"Especially when the positions are important -- and I believe every single position in a newsroom is important -- you can't just place people in positions arbitrarily. I always wanted to put people in a position to succeed -- that is the best thing for them and for the organization," says David Friend.
Open, Direct, & Honest Conversation
Another leadership recommendation from David Friend is to always, always be honest with team members.
"The hardest conversation to have is with a good employee who is really giving it their all, but is just not right for the job," says David Friend. "I've always found that being straight with people, with both good news or bad, is always the right thing to do."
David Friend had many employees who would take his critiques to heart, with many improving even beyond expectations. David Friend was very proud of these people, but didn't knock anyone who knew it was time to move on, often to successful careers in other areas.
"I always tried to look beyond a person's resume to assess their potential for advancement. Sometimes it's not the job a person does, but their intellectual and emotional maturity that shows you they will succeed even in a position that is a stretch for them," explains David Friend.
David Friend would also try to teach through his own experiences and stories, knowing that not all situations are the same, but hoping that walking his team through his processes would provide helpful context.
"I wanted my team to have the tools to think through problems on their own. It's the only way to help people grow, and we increase efficiency as a team if they're not always asking me to solve issues for them," says David Friend.
The Buck Stops Here
"I always tried to celebrate wins with my team, but my mistakes were my own," notes David Friend.
Friend strove to teach everyone that it is ok to err, if there was thought behind the mistake. If a reason was articulated, even if in the end it may have resulted in failure, Friend never held the error against his team if it provided a learning opportunity.
"What I could not tolerate were mistakes and missteps that were due to complacency or laziness," explains David Friend. "We were a team, and we'll figure it out in the end as long as everyone is pulling the same direction with the same effort, together. When we won, we celebrated together. When we lost, we owned it, and when we owned it, we learned."
Equality and Fairness Matter
Another of David Friend's core principles was to treat everyone equally and fairly, which requires understanding extenuating circumstances.
"Acting consistently is key to leading a successful team," says David Friend.
Friend believes that whether someone is in a highly-paid role or is an entry-level production assistant, it's important to know that the rules apply equally to everyone, regardless of age, experience or title. David Friend also believes that any hard and fast rule should be tempered with humanity. He highlights that checking in with team members is important.
"When family matters, life events or other circumstances occur, you must be able to demonstrate understanding and flexibility. Otherwise, you risk alienating talented and loyal people. Creating a sustainable culture must demand the best, but it must also be human," says David Friend.
Complacency Means Death
Famous NBA basketball player, coach, and team executive Pat Reilly said, "Complacency is the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness."
Across his career in TV News spanning more than four decades, David Friend understood this too. When David Friend first started his career in TV journalism, news stories were shot on film, there was no cable TV, and certainly no internet. As technology evolved, David Friend had to adapt, learn, and incorporate new changes and technologies into the departments he led.
"I couldn't let our teams fall behind in the changing way news was being gathered and disseminated if I wanted us all to enjoy continued success," David Friend says.
Friend understood the changing nature of his team members as well. The issues that were important for baby boomers were not the same as those for gen x'ers, millennials, or gen z'ers, who are now entering the workforce. They had faced different upbringings, different world realities, and an ever-shifting media landscape that different people of various generations would handle with wildly different viewpoints.
"We could not lose sight of our core journalistic responsibilities, even though news-gathering technologies are rapidly changing," says David Friend. "Accuracy is at the core of what we do as journalists, even though information is now coming at us from a myriad of sources and atbreakneck speed. I tried to motivate my teams to always strive for excellence, to break away from the pack."
David Friend and his newsrooms tackled evolving situations and consistently delivered by keeping the core of their strategy simple.
"My teams excelled because we all believed in our core mission, to be the voice for our viewers, to ask hard questions on their behalf, and tonot be complacent until we got the answers they deserved. I reminded my teams that we could never lose sight of who we are as journalists and our responsibilities to our viewers, our profession and to ourselves."
David Friend reemphasizes that communication, fairness, integrity, and honesty are not new ideas, and will remain staples of good management.
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