The Write Kind of Leader
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
By Madeline Mohatt
As time evolves, shifts in present-day society are inevitable. It was only a decade ago that gauchos were considered cutting edge, water bottles made it through airport security, Drake was just a mere collegiate university and a tweet was simply something that birds did. While society is ever-changing, the need for effective leaders is perpetual.
Yes, some people are naturally predisposed to leadership. However, many learn from experience and the example set forth by others. As someone who was not born with the “special sauce,” I fall into the category of a “learned leader.” Although there are numerous acquaintances that have helped me acquire leadership skills, one stands out most: my experience with my school newspaper.
During my senior year of high school, I became editor-in-chief of my school’s newspaper —the Kaneland Krier. In the midst of all that was copyediting and cutlines, I not only discovered my passion for storytelling, but learned a great deal about leadership. Here are some of my key takeaways:
Build authentic relationships.
In the world of journalism, it’s tempting to focus on deadlines and short-term goals. However, when acting as EIC, I realized that long-term success is dependent on the development of interpersonal relationships.
In order to be an effective leader, one must treat people as, well, people. Not as jobs, tasks or outputs. When one demonstrates an interest in people and their service, it helps construct a mutual commitment to the organization. Aspiring leaders can do this by actively listening, engage in conversation and being readily available to their team. While many know how to do these things, it is pivotal to prioritize such practices in the course of day-to-day interactions.
Okay, this one might seem pretty obvious. Nonetheless, it’s debatably the most important. During my time at the Kaneland Krier, almost every journalistic disaster could be traced back to a failure of communication. Such mishaps helped me draw the conclusion that organizational success is synonymous with productive communication. James Humes said it best, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
When I first “clocked in” as editor-in-chief, I had a hard time appointing tasks to others. But after encountering several sleepless nights and consuming far too much caffeine, I realized that the weight of the paper was too heavy to carry on my own. Once I finally started practicing fruitful delegation tactics I discovered great truth in the common cliché “teamwork makes the dream work.”
While I had to surrender my title of editor-in-chief when I graduated from high school, the lessons that I learned throughout the experience are ones that will stick with me for life. As an account executive at Jacht, I am still continuously striving to grow as a leader. In doing so, I have discovered that building authentic relationships, communicating effectively and delegating responsibility are leadership skills that extend far beyond the walls of a newsroom.