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How to Stay Grounded With Your Team 15 March 2019

You’re busy, I’m busy.  So I keep these Newsroom Secrets to six snappy paragraphs.  I hope you find them useful in your workplace! 


Do you sometimes worry that you’re losing touch with the people you lead?  Here’s a great way to nip that in the bud.  Once in a while, do what they do.

I’ve just run a full day workshop for a big international airline.  Eight of the COO’s reports were in the room, enjoying my full Newsroom Bootcamp experience — crystallising messages and hitting deadlines as if they were about to go on air with a live TV News bulletin.  

Airlines fascinate me, so during the lunch break I got chatting with the Director of Flight Operations.  He’s in charge of the entire fleet of 2,800 pilots.  And do you know what he told me, in passing, over the coronation chicken sandwiches?  “Oh, I make sure I fly once a week.  I like to keep my hand in.”   I smiled at the irony.  To stay grounded, this very senior pilot takes to the skies. 

It got me thinking about leadership — whether at a multi-million pound airline, an eager new start-up, or a grand old news organisation.  I was reminded of a journalist in a BBC newsroom who just loved producing the early evening news.  He was soon promoted to run the newsroom itself, and then several newsrooms across an entire BBC region. He’s now one of the most senior figures in the Corporation (finding time to be my Best Man along the way.)  But guess what he used to make a point of doing as he climbed that ladder?  When a gap in the production rota needed filling, he’d roll his sleeves up and produce a news bulletin. 

Permit me a small boast here.  I’ve always tried to follow that example.  So whenever I’m on a news presenting shift, I make sure I sit at an edit desk to cut the pictures to match the words in the headlines I’ve written.  It’s a fiddly task that would otherwise be allocated to a more junior member of the team (who already has a thousand other things to do).  But it’s my small way of showing that nothing is beneath me.  It’s my way of staying grounded.

Flying once a week works for the Director of Flight Operations, because he just loves flying. Cutting headlines works for me, because it’s a daily reminder that TV News isn’t about my honeyed words, it’s about the pictures.  What could you do to keep yourself in your team’s eyeline?  Answering that question might just remind you what you loved about your industry in the first place. 


Keen to develop your team’s communication & agility skills by experiencing an hour or two in a TV Newsroom?  I can help. 

Great picture of cockpit view:  LoveAviation.co.uk

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