How do you harness the power of uncertainty and change?
Promax Next, an intensive leadership development program, aims to give entertainment company executives the tools and techniques to do just that.
Led by leadership expert Esther Weinberg, the six-month-long program is a powerful alliance that leverages Weinberg’s The Ready Zone methodology — a strategic approach to creating engaged and thriving workforces in the face of radical change — and Promax’s commitment to fostering diverse community — especially during disruptive times.
With a focus on management, team-building and problem-solving, Promax Next brings together a cohort of rising leaders from across the entertainment industry.
“Every great leader has had a mentor, and a community around them that has been able to support them,” said Steve Kazanjian, president and CEO of Promax. “It’s very difficult to climb that mountain by yourself.”
Networking, Fast Tracked
The group of between eight to 12 meet virtually every two weeks around themed lessons intended to be put into practice in the workplace, while learning and growing from one another through profound, insightful and often life-changing introspection.
“One of the things I really enjoyed is it’s a group of people from all different organizations, but we were able to share personal experiences, and offer support and encouragement to each other,” said Kim Marshall, director of post production at ABC and a recent graduate of the program. “And I now have those relationships that I can take with me. They’re always there for me, even though the class has ended.”
That’s no accident.
“You inherently build a network,” said Weinberg. “The thing about a network is it’s about building relationships. We deepen that exponentially.”
For her, the important parts of the program are when someone shares openly and candidly and the group meets them where they are, often evoking a new perspective. In an environment of trust, safety and respect, participants of Promax Next are encouraged to engage with open hearts and minds.
“The more vulnerable you can make yourself the more time you’ll save,” said Brian Rio, director of sound design at WarnerMedia. “Because you’ll get there one way or another.”
“You really open up and make lifelong friendships,” added Krishnan Purushothaman, design director, WarnerMedia.
Personalized Strategies at Your Fingertips
While designed for high-potential mid-level executives, “this class is not just for leaders,” Marshall said. “It’s for anyone that wants to grow their career, develop professionally, take it to the next level. It’s for people who want to continue climbing the ladder, or just be a better employee and team member.”
As a result of the program, she’s learned to make herself more visible—and her input more valuable—by connecting on a more human level particularly with other executives who are not on her team. She’s been joining Zoom calls earlier to purposefully engage in small talk — no budget discussions in sight — with an awareness that “we’re all just people trying to get the job done.”
That personal connection is key. For Purushothaman, an important part of working in a creative industry is having those opportunities to bump into someone in the breakroom for an informal conversation. But that’s no longer an option in a virtual world. He now makes it a point to schedule times on his calendar to simply pick up the phone and chat with his coworkers and team.
“This program helped me do that,” he said. “The intention needs to be there or else it’s easy to forget. Unless you talk about it, it’s not a reality. But once you talk about it you realize, yeah, these are the things I’m missing.”
During a mastermind session — a group brainstorm to really hone in on a particular problem or question — Rio pondered how to lean into the ideology that ‘change is good’ during such a turbulent time of industry transformation and a global pandemic.
“Human beings need some stability,” Rio said. “What was that thing to grab onto during this tornado of change happening around us? The group helped me realize the thing that my team could identify and hold onto were shared values.”
Think collaboration over competition, and leading with empathy and never losing sight of our humanity. Rio organized six weeks of optional meetings that everyone on his team chose to attend. Together, they created a document establishing their team identity.
“I could not have done that without that one mastermind session with Promax Next,” Rio said. “It’s one of the proudest things I’ve done since I’ve been in a leadership role.”
Lead Confidently in Any Circumstance
For Jason Letkiewicz, senior writer producer, ABC, Promax Next helped affirm his professional path forward.
“I wasn’t sure if creative leadership was something I wanted to do, because it kind of takes you away from making the thing,” he said. “But over the course of the class I figured out this is something I want to pursue. It changed my career trajectory in a way I didn’t really anticipate.”
Change has always been an essential part of Letkiewicz’s progress.
“I don’t have any expectation that the job I’m in is going to exist in three or five years,” he said.
With Covid-19 vaccinations underway and an end to social distancing on the horizon, that seems like a good attitude to have. Promax Next was born during the early days of the pandemic out of a need for new standards and perspectives as an industry already in turmoil grappled with the logistics of an entire workforce going remote.
Questions such as, ‘How do I motivate my team when I physically can’t see them?’, ‘How do I keep them engaged?’, and ‘How do I keep myself focused?’, will not go away even when we all go back to some form of “normal” — whatever that means, says Kazanjian.
“We’re not going back to where we were a year ago,” he said. “I think everyone knows that. We’re going into some kind of hybrid environment that has uncertainties around it.”
The next set of obstacles will be equally as challenging in different ways.
“The next six months are going to be pivotal for [leaders] and their teams,” said Weinberg.
In the midst of major decisions about bringing employees back to offices, reshaping work cultures, generating new ways for innovation and figuring out how all that translates to the bottom line, a successful leader will need enhanced social and emotional skills to manage uneasiness and angst among their teams, coworkers and bosses, Weinberg predicts.
One of the goals of Promax Next, she said, is to equip executives with personalized strategies to manage consistent disruption — to “lead powerfully and feel ready to do so regardless of circumstances.”
Kazanjian agrees those who are able to be flexible in their leadership styles and who focus on their own personal growth are the ones who will absolutely thrive.
“As we settle into what post-Covid life looks like,” he said, “being able to prepare for it requires you to develop new leadership skills and Next is there to help you do that.”
Apply now to become a part of the next cohort of Promax Next.