Tuesday, October 01, 2013

From Media to Management

Image Courtesy liladepo
The hardest lesson I had to learn in my professional development from producer to Executive Producer is that:

Neither sales nor doing is leadership; Communication informed by empathy and purpose is leadership.

But maybe you don't even want to be a leader; delegation can feel like an awkward at first, while others are simply uncomfortable giving up control.

Or maybe all you ever wanted was to be a professional artist, a working composer or film editor, but along with acquiring professional success, you also acquired a staff. Suddenly, you've got mouths to feed and you spend less time making cool stuff, and more time running a company.

Nevertheless, for whatever reason, you may not want to accept the responsibility that comes with your job title.

One Executive Producer confessed to me that she didn't want to do sales. "But that's your job," I said. I wasn't being arrogant or pompous; I was simply stating a fact and the sooner she accepted that, the sooner she would reap the benefit gained by assimilating to her actual role, not the role she had in her head.

The fact is, the moment your job changes from artist to strategist, and you go from coordinating tasks to managing projects, then you're a leader. Whether you want to be a leader is irrelevant; if you have people under your charge, then the only thing that matters at this point is whether you're going to be an effective leader or an incompetent leader.

If you're any good at your job, then one day it will stop being just about Crayola crayons, or Adobe Creative Suite, or Autodesk, or ProTools, Davinci Resolve or whatever you count among your creative tools. You'll still have tools in your belt, but you'll also have people in the truck, so to speak. You'll gain a few more responsibilities, and with them will come the obligation to actually learn new management skills. In no particular order:

  • Leadership is now your job.
  • Communication is now your job. 
  • Community Building is now your job
  • Empathy is now your job.
  • Strategy is now your job.
  • Purpose is now your job.

Do what you other people before you have done to do to figure it out: read books, find a mentor, take a class if you have to, but don't permit yourself to turn into an obstinate jerk just because when you came up through the ranks, you worked for an obstinate jerk, and now you think, well, that's just the way you do it in our industry.

Here's a tip: an overwhelming number of psychological investigations and research into human learning suggests that the use of positive reinforcement in changing behavior is almost always more effective than using punishment. And you don't have to take my word for it, go ahead and Google it.

–And then, Good Luck!

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