Opinion: Media Federation goes soft on emerging leaders

Paul McIntyre
By Paul McIntyre | 12 March 2014
AdNews editor-in-chief Paul McIntyre.

I’m not prone to things of a warm and fuzzy nature. They tend to border on the cringe, particularly when early in your career the American motivational speakers were at the peak of their shiny cycle.

I’m not sure what the link is here yet but last year at the AdNews Media Sales Summit I ended up hugging PwC’s Megan Brownlow during what was a very funny and instructive session. Today she was my “mentor” because I was assigned to her table with a bunch of emerging media agency team leaders who talked openly about their challenges managing people and delivering results. It was a good discussion.

On stage as part of the MFA’s 5+ initiative for emerging leaders – 300 of them – was Rob Pyne, an organisational shrink who was once in the advertising business and Rachael Robertson, who dumped her job as a call centre manager for the daunting task of leading the Australian team on a rotating 12 month stint in Antarctica – months of which were in complete darkness. Both were impressive.

Dysfunctional teams, trust, ambivalence, fear of conflict, meetings overload and getting out of the way of your people were among the takeouts on my table. And triangles.

Triangles is a good one. Robertson implemented this policy in Antarctica to keep a team of women and men from turning into cannibals. It basically means teaching people to talk directly with each other about issues instead of going to a third person – the bitch syndrome, which many of us are very good at.

This morning’s session at the Ivy was one of those which is hard to report on with any sharpness. It was really the underbelly of emerging leadership qualities, which the industry is in desperate need of – from media to media agencies to marketing teams and crikey, even editorial teams.

We know that media agencies are under huge pressures and churn right now. Somehow AdNews covered that in a not so welcome story a few weeks back but it is clear at an industry level, there are determined efforts to address it for the medium term.

So cart your carcasses along to the next one, which I think is in June. Soft is okay.

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