We spoke. We listened. We laughed and cried. We debated, questioned and collaborated. We learned. Pretty good for three days, right? The second RTDNA-Loyola Anchor-Producer Leadership Summit was the kind of re-charge moment I badly needed.
I wish I could impart everything I’ve learned to you, but I’m still digesting it all. So for now, here are five takeaways that will have to do until next year, when you can attend the summit in person!
Sign up here to be the first to hear about RTDNA’s next leadership training.
1. Specific positive feedback
“Great A-block, nice story, cool live shot.” How many times have I said that to coworkers over the years? Too many to count. But my attempts at praise are falling short. What made it a great A-block? What was nice about the story? Why was it a cool live shot? When you give specifics in your praise, you demonstrate that you actually paid attention. You also encourage the specific good behavior you want replicated.
2. Intention and Attention
Tracy Davidson’s wisdom is widely applicable to everything I do, but well suited for social media. What is the intention of my posts? Am I conveying information? Providing uplifting messages? Curating a more engaged and loyal fan base? As soon as I focus my posts based on what I intend, my brand becomes clearer for my followers. And once I know my intention, paying attention to the work I have to do becomes easier. It’s easier to give my attention to posts that meet my intention.
3. Missing the story for the assignment
If you haven’t had the pleasure of learning from master storyteller Boyd Huppert, I’m sorry for you. His work can teach us many skills and technical tips. But his most important lesson is that we cannot improve on storytelling fundamentals until we learn to find the stories! How many times do we head out on assignments, and we miss the story? Cat stuck in a tree? That’s the assignment. Cat’s owner worried that he might lose his late wife’s cat he’s been taking care of since her death? That’s the story. The best way to find the stories? Listen.
4. Coaching, not fixing
Yes, I’m a fixer. I find it easier to do everything myself. But Jill Giesler’s message resonated deeply with me. If I don’t learn to coach instead of fix, I’ll be on a path to burnout. This is a journey, and it will take me months — maybe years — to kick my habits. But here’s how I’ll start: When helping someone with their writing, I’ll sit on my hands and ask questions that help us explore the story. It’s also not about how great of an editor I am — it’s about making the writer better.
5. Confidence in your colleagues
I can’t learn enough from the really smart people in public radio — especially if they’re former TV news people! Angela Davis gave us some powerful leadership advice: Trust the people you’re working with, and empower them to help you. Your product will be better.
(Angela also had this really great advice: It’s not always better the higher you go. Sometimes your career situation in a smaller market is better for you professionally and personally than if you jump to the “big leagues.”)
I left the Leadership Summit prepared to be a better leader, storyteller and journalist and, with these five takeaways, I hope you can too.