Creative Leadership

Leading in the Digital Media World

Here are some thoughts worth considering on how to lead an organization or team in the new digital media world. The most important aspect of the digital world is that’s not top-down. Traditional media is top-down – meaning, one program is sent out through radio or TV and if you miss it, it’s over. It’s a one way street. But digital media is about two way communication. The key concept to remember is that the digital media world is about personalization, and it’s interactive. Today we can download or TIVO programs when we want it, where we want it, and how we want it. It’s multi-directional. Leadership has to make that same transition.

So stop thinking “pyramid” and start thinking “bicycle wheel.” Hub and spoke. A great leader in the digital world understands how to develop a team and bring the best things out of that team. We still need leaders to decide which hill to take, but once that decision is made, let your team work out the approach, process, and details.

Today, leadership is more about finding the best talent, and then coaching and guiding. It’s about creating an atmosphere where great minds can do wonderful things.

What does that take?

1) A commitment to finding the best people. Don’t confuse loyalty with expertise. Your brother-in-law is probably very loyal, but not the best person for your project. Get the right people in place.

2) The office environment should be fun, and more than anything – NOT BORING. Even when doing serious tasks, make it an enjoyable place to work. Dump the cubicles if possible, or at least let employees personalize them. Encourage creativity and innovation. People don’t mind working long hours if they’re being challenged and are enjoying the process.

3) It’s better to pay a few great people well, than a bunch of mediocre people poorly. We think we’re serving the Kingdom of God when we hire a bunch of people at minimum wage. But how does mediocre work help the Kingdom? Cut your staff in half, but hire great people. Then as much as you can, pay them what their worth. A handful of talented people will do far more than a lot of untalented ones.

4) Encourage them to fail big. Mistakes lead to accomplishment, so don’t be upset when people fail. They shouldn’t fail because of stupid reasons of course – lack of preparation, laziness, or not paying attention. They should fail because they’re reaching too far, dreaming too big, and stretching the possibilities.

5) Reward the achievers. Toss out the idea of being fair across the board. Reward the people who drive the train. Better salaries, bonuses, time off, Starbucks cards – whatever. Little gifts and benefits matter. Just don’t think for a minute that you should treat everyone the same. That’s the quickest way to lose your most talented people.

6) Most important – Culture is more important than vision.
Vision is great, but most organizations have a great vision, but have created a poisonous culture that destroys innovation. Without a thriving, innovative culture, your vision will never happen. On the other hand – even without a vision – a creative, growing, inventive culture will accomplish something significant.

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  1. It's interesting that you posted this topic on your blog. Over the weekend I watched Disney Pixar's "Ratatoulle" for the first time. After the movie was done, I switched over to the "special features" segments and found an amazing dialogue between the director, Brad Bird, and the consulting chef, Thomas Keller, on the topic of team building. They talked about making an "emotional connection" with the viewer…creating something spontaneous…and product, execution and interpretation. The bottom line was the fact that they hire the best people, motivate them to excellence, and create an environment that encourages them to excell. 

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