Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Why it isn't working...

Studying "Pyschology of Politics" back in 1999 never seemed more relevant than to satisfy a bizarre curiosity I may have had to find why exactly Hitler was such an arse. I never imagined that it would give me an insight into a particularly nasty paradox currently facing the publishing industry of the late 2000s.

The key learning that stayed with me - a miracle really considering the level of general abuse my brain underwent at Newcastle around the same time - is that the qualites that make someone able to become a leader (ambition, single mindedness, drive, arrogance, self belief) are the EXACT OPPOSITE to those which make some a good leader (a good listener, belief in the group). The more you think about the more true it is, the best leaders the world has ever seen were not born politically ambitious but were either born into it such as Queen Victoria, or thrust into it such as Churchill.

So, bringing this back to the media indutry we are faced with the same paradox. For decades, editors have been employed, lauded, rewarded and loved for being self-opinionated, arrogant, single minded mini-Caesars who believe that above and beyond anything - they are right. Of course, they have to be - if you sell opinion, your opinion, you've got to believe in it. However, in the new age of "Web 2.0", "UGC" and all the other associated buzzwords - a new image of a successful editor is born. One who believes their sole role is to aggregate and help the voice of the consumer, who puts the consumer's opinion first and equal only with that of other consumers. This is an editor who is unassuming, without the need to broadcase their opinion and possibly self-depracating.

The Successful Online Editor and the Successful Offline Editor are 2 ultimately different people and asking one person to be both, successfully is an impossible ask... The solution, whether it be separate people, separate teams, separate companies or a clear idea of offline versus online importance is still not clear

1 comment:

BadgerGravling said...

Really interesting first post! I think it's definitely going to require a change in thinking and I agree that the difference between a good leader, and the characteristics that generally make someone want to take a leadership role, are generally quite far apart.

I guess the trick may be for people who are already in management roles to be retrained to look for staff exhibiting the social skills needed, rather than relying on those who most angle for promotion - but that's a huge leap.

Can't wait for the next post!