MFA 5+ warned of wicked witches

MFA 5+ warned of wicked witches
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In the third instalment of its Inspiration series, members of Media Federation of Australia’s 5+ community were last week warned against allowing a culture within their teams where staff demonised another member of staff behind their backs rather than dealing with personnel problems head on.

Held at Sydney’s Ivy Ballroom, the event, which is part of a program designed to inspire and empower media professionals with 5-10 years’ experience, saw 270 members of the 5+ community turn out to hear fascinating talks by two of the country’s top teamwork experts, adventurer/author Rachael Robertson and media strategist Rob Pyne (pictured).

Robertson and Pyne explored how high-performance teams are made, and techniques for getting the very best from yourself and your team. They also shared fascinating personal stories on performance highlights and lowlights during their own careers/adventures. This was followed by intimate table discussions with peers and industry leaders.

Pyne brought up his witch analogy as part of his address on how to effectively lead a group. He said that allowing one person to become a “water cooler” focal point of hatred and derision was a dangerous development and fitted into his five dysfunctions of a team. His five team dysfunctions were an absence of trust (which nurtured a culture of invulnerability), fear of conflict (which created artificial harmony), lack of commitment (which lead to ambiguity), avoidance of accountability (which allowed low standards to thrive) and inattention to results (which fostered the development of ego).

Pyne also advised the fledgling managers in the room that your ability to lead a team was measured when you were not in the room. Another key piece of advice Pyne offered was to look back at when your team was at its best and try and figure out what was going right at that time.

Rachael Robertson, who led a year-long expedition to Antarctica, which she recounted in her best-selling book Leading On The Edge, struck a chord with her audience when she encouraged them to not have “any triangles”. By triangles she was referring to conversations taking place through intermediaries rather than team members addressing each other with any issues they may have.

The 5+ members sat at the same table as B&T certainly expressed frustration with leading people and admitted to struggling with the complexities of managing a team as well as managing up to their managers.

“Performance and teamwork are inextricably linked, and knowing how to get the best from yourself both as a team leader and a team player are vital skills for the 5+ community,” says Sophie Madden, CEO of the MFA. “As our industry has diversified, so too have the types of teams you can expect to be part of. Knowing how to collaborate with people with talents and skills very different to your own, particularly as we move towards broader ‘virtual’ teams, is essential for our future leaders.”

The MFA 5+ Inspiration Series is an MFA initiative designed to inspire media professionals with 5-10 year’s experience to create and lead successful careers.

The MFA 5+ initiative was established in response to findings in a June 2012 survey that revealed one in three professionals with 5-10 years’ experience are considering leaving the industry, and 51% of those who plan to stay don’t know what their next job will be.

A committee made up of 20 media managers with 5+ years’ experience was tasked with establishing a program that would “Inspire 5+ media professionals to create and lead successful careers”. The result is the MFA 5+ Inspiration Series, which delivers a combination of inspirational content and group mentoring.

The first event on ‘Leadership’ was held in June 2013, the second on ‘More Business, Less Media’ in October 2013, and the third on ‘Performance’ in March 2014. Further sessions will be rolled out in 2014.

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