Newsroom experts

Newsroom leadership best practices from an award-winning editor

Paul Pronovost. Merrily Cassidy/Cape Cod Times

Paul Pronovost, the award-winning editor of the Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, Massachusetts, shared some of his favorite leadership practices with GateHouse Newsroom in this special guest post. 

Like many of you, I am a student of leadership practices. I look to role models who have certain traits — vision, passion, work ethic, etc. — and dissect what makes these individuals tick. There are so many great examples out there, but there is one who, to me, is the true embodiment of a leader: Major Richard D. Winters.

Some of you know that name. Dick Winters was an Army officer with the 101st Airborne during WWII. His 506th Parachute Regiment saw action on D-Day, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Winters was highly decorated for his service, but lived most of his life anonymously until the 1992 book “Band of Brothers” by Steven Ambrose was made into an HBO miniseries in 2001.

Winters’ heroism was matched only by his incredible leadership skills, which he focused into 10 essential principles. His words of wisdom apply as much today as they did on those cold nights in the Ardennes forest:

1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence and courage.
2. Lead from the front. Say, “follow me!” and then lead the way.
3. Stay in top physical shape — physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.
4. Develop your team. If you know people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.
5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination or your creativity.
6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.
7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.
9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. The key to a successful leader is to earn respect — not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.
10. Hang tough! Never, ever, give up.

This is not an easy time for the news business. (No need to count the reasons here — you all know them.) But I believe there are great moments ahead for those who can navigate these difficult days.

It begins with quality leadership and I can think of no better role model than the legendary Dick Winters.

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