How I Approach Leadership
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” –Douglas MacArthur
Leading over 30 high school students to accomplish what we do is tremendously difficult. I have had to learn how to be a great teacher, how to motivate people individually and collectively, and how to balance compassion with deadlines. It has taught me the power of delegation, and coordinating several different moving parts to create a great product. Those are lessons that will carry through the rest of my life.
Leadership at an extracurricular publication can be extra difficult, because we do not have grades to motivate people. All the work that we put in has to come out of intrinsic motivation, so we have to find out why everyone participates and make sure they’re getting it out of their work.
Throughout the year, I have to develop the leaders for the following years. Being a leader on the paper means bringing the leadership out of others. Every day, I try and role model the qualities I hope instill in others - passion, dedication, compassion, organization, bravery, prudence, the list goes on. I try and incorporate the juniors in as many decisions as possible, so that if they are Editor-in-Chief, they will have some experience for when they have to call the shots.
At the core of it all is showing every reporter that they are a valued piece of our mission, and that their work means something.
A huge part of the new approach to leadership is great team communication.
Slack was part of my pitch when I was applying to be Editor-in-Chief in spring 2015. It’s a communication platform that gives every member of the team a way to communicate with everyone else. It’s available on desktop and smartphone, so it’s easy for everyone. Before, we had to have every person’s number, but with Slack everyone is available.
To the left, you can see the dashboard and one of my favorite uses of Slack. I love to share staff shout-outs when they are doing great work. The messages are motivating, and it sets the bar and tone for the rest of the team. You can also see the start of our countdown to deadline. We like to keep a timer and roughly every 30 minutes send in a motivational clip or funny video.
Slack has also helped with team bonding.
We put some great articles we read in the general page, talk about movie trailers, get a group together to see a movie, or talk trash about our Fantasy Football league. (I was gypped in the semi-final.) Without Slack, that sort of all-inclusive conversation would be impossible.