Ideas are cheap; execution is everything. There are several factors that come into play to make the difference between a successful and a failed execution. One of those factors is leadership.
There are different kinds of leaders. Some lead from the front. (William Wallace comes to mind.) But, in war at least, we haven’t had a general lead from the front since Alexander the Great. It simply drains a person too much to lead from the front, especially on a modern battlefield where too much is happening all at once.
Some lead like ants, working hard and getting others to follow in line. Others lead like owls, giving sage advice in a calm and zen-like manner. Still others lead like puppies, bringing an unparalleled enthusiasm to galvanize others into action.
So the question is: What types of leadership does journalism need now?
A generation ago, we needed people who could take small newspapers and turn them into thriving businesses, people who could lead because of their stature, cut-throat competitiveness, and business savvy. The journalism industry has different goals and needs now. Today, we need flexibility, innovation, community, collaboration
and tech-savvy, to name a few things.
Which begs the question: Do we need new leaders? This isn’t a question relating to specific people, but characteristic traits.
I have often used the chessboard as an analogy for the state of journalism: “Content is king, collaboration is queen, the board itself is transparency.” But the game of chess needs a leader, somebody who can step back, look at the board and make decisions.
Just as a William Wallace-type general would be ineffective on a modern battlefield, could a William Randolph Hearst make it in today’s journalism environment? What new characteristics would Hearst need to nurture? What would be outright foolish in today’s culture? More importantly, is journalism suffering a brain drain? What new leaders are we losing to other industries?
I went to my Tweeple for some thoughts.
What do you think? Share your thoughts on the leadership needed in journalism in the comments below or by replying on Twitter to my tweet (which will then show up above).