5 Talents You Need to Be a Strong Leader in Media/Entertainment & Where to Learn Them

What are the talent requirements for next-generation leaders who will shape the future of the media, entertainment, and communications industry?

This was the topic of a keynote and panel conversation at WICT Southern California Leadership Luncheon at Fogo De Chao in Beverly Hills. The Dean of USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, Ernest Wilson III, spoke about a significant problem in the entertainment industry- a one-trillion dollar global talent gap. He said that we can't find enough good talent with necessary competencies. He also mentioned that these "soft skills" are the most critical to learn and the entertainment industry is mainly unaware of this problem or how to fix it. He encouraged the audience to dedicate more time to resolving this issue.

USC completed research that explores the talent requirements needed for media and entertainment jobs in the 21st century. The University created a white paper in which they present unique strategic communication competencies in a new area that they coined the "third space."

These critical competencies have been identified as: adaptability, flexibility, comfort with ambiguity, curiosity, creativity, willingness to experiment, cultural competency, empathy, effective listening, collaboration, 360 degree thinking and pattern recognition.

From reading their white paper, and having been a VP of a movie studio, and a speaker on the WICT luncheon panel, I created my own top five talents that I believe are necessary to be a strong values-based leader:


1. MENTORSHIP: Find a strong and inspiring mentor, role model, or coach that can help you develop authentic leadership skills as there are no rule books. Look for someone who has embodied wisdom so they walk their talk. Offer mentorship to your employees if you are in a leadership position.
2. INNOVATION: Innovate or become irrelevant. Continuously learn and work on cultivating creativity and solutions that work. Look into the future and see the big picture of an extremely inter-connected world. Create stories and technology that helps humanity evolve and thrive.
3. COMPASSION: Establish respect and rapport quickly with colleagues and employees so collaboration is easy and fun. Be transparent and authentic when you share with collaborative partners so trust can be developed and be willing to see their perspectives with an open heart and mind.
4. EXPERIMENTATION: Be willing to test things out and take smart risks so you become the change-agent in your company. This may require you to develop a new training program for your leaders. As with all good experiments, you want to set specific goals and measure the results.
5. SYNERGY: Work/life balance is crucial for employee well-being, happiness and productivity. Finding ways to reduce stress and encourage well-rounded employees who have hobbies and interests outside of work is necessary. Create synergistic systems and remind all teams that they are part of a whole organism that needs to function together for ultimate efficiency.

I believe that we all have the "third space" skills inside and we just need coaching, education, and encouragement to live into our highest potential.

The good news is that there are different places where you can learn and receive training to embody these skills. Here are a few of my favorite places:

1. USM: A 10-month certificate program in Spiritual Psychology that teaches over twenty different communication competencies that help you be your best in business and life.
2. Synergy TV: A curated online video channel that showcases empowering role models, life and career coaches, solution-driven films, and inspirational thought-leaders who mirror a better world.
3. TrueSpark: A non-profit that pairs educational curriculum with inspirational movies to teach youth aged 11 - 18 about 24 different positive character traits.
4. Equine Rockstar: An equine coaching program that works with corporate and entrepreneur groups at a ranch in Malibu partnering with horses in team building and goal-setting exercises to improve leadership and communications skills.
5. USC: USC is starting an Institute for Diversity & Empowerment to provide education and help link talent strategy with corporate strategy, as well as train students on how to be great mentees as part of their Third Space initiative.
6. WICT: Women in Telecommunications offers mentorship programs to women in entertainment and media. Through various events, they are preparing, encouraging and rewarding women to step into their inner power and become leaders.

I encourage you to start the conversation in your organization about what your employees and colleagues need and how they can best be served. These skills are important to our collective future, not just in entertainment but as a society. The investment your company makes in coaching, training and educational programs will differentiate you in the industry. As one of the luncheon panelists mentioned, our careers are more like walking a labyrinth rather than climbing a ladder. Growth can happen at any turn, so enjoy the journey!


Photo credits: WICT/Time Warner Cable & Kate Neligan

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