Vivi Zigler, president, digital, brand and audience development, Endemol Shine North America, has spent her whole career leading teams. Along the way, she’s picked up many valuable lessons in leadership that she passed on to attendees at the PromaxBDA Station Summit 2016 on Thursday.
For starters, she acknowledged that companies tend to promote star performers into management and leadership roles for which they are never trained.
“We take people usually who are amazing news or sales directors and we make them general managers. That doesn’t mean they understand how to run a P&L sheet, get the most out of their workforce or manage a team. That’s a whole different set of skills,” Zigler said, introducing her session. “A career shouldn’t happen to you. It should not be the thing that happens because you don’t do anything else. Most people let their careers push and flow them, not the reverse, which is how it should be.”
Zigler’s first piece of advice is to brand yourself as a leader in much the same way you brand spots, campaigns or companies.
“You need to really think about your audience – and in this case I mean your employees, boss, peers – and consider how you want to be seen. You want to think about your work style, you want to cultivate it, and you don’t get a reset.”
Unlike a campaign, however, branding yourself is more about how you behave and it requires constant diligence.
“One of the best pieces of advice I got a long time ago was that you have to behave as if you need to be voted in, even if you don’t have to be voted in. You have to be a person that people want to vote in. You need to be campaigning 24/7 by your behavior, by what you actually do,” said Zigler.
Number two was to “take advantage of the people around you,” and by that Zigler meant talk to people in jobs you know nothing about to find out how the whole business works. Not only will that gain you allies in your 24/7 campaign, you’ll also learn things about the business you might need to know in a future role.
The third lesson is to “make sure you understand what your passion points are, and what makes you happy. Hold on to some of them. Don’t get too far away from them,” said Zigler. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get to do those things on a daily basis as you add responsibilities to your plate, but it is important that even leaders remain happy and fulfilled at work.
“As you get promoted, you realize the things you got into the business for you don’t do anymore. When I left NBC I had about 110 people working for me. I had a terrific senior staff. What I got was the worst legal, HR, financial, PR problems. I no longer got to do the things that I loved earlier in my career.”
Fourth is “reward behavior you wish to have continue and don’t inadvertently reward behavior that you don’t,” said Zigler. That may mean ignoring the superachieving yet super-needy member of the group who can handle any project you throw at him (or her) but must constantly be stroked or given all the credit.
“If you don’t deal with that behavior, you are teaching your entire team that’s acceptable,” she said.
Fifth is the golden rule: “you have to treat people like you want to be treated,” she said. “When you feel bad, small, unappreciated, confused, turn around and ask yourself “am I doing any better for the people who work for me? Am I appreciating? Am I rewarding?
“Give criticism privately, give praise publicly. If you are a screamer or a ranter, you will never make people want to follow you.”
Finally, came a piece of unorthodox advice: “pick your boss.”
That much freedom of choice is not always possible, but if you can work for who you want, “it’s the best indicator of getting promoted, moving up and getting raises.”