Leaders and managers: Why are they different and which one is needed in the SA media industry today

During the Apartheid era, mainstream media were not allowed to publish whatever they wanted to. The media was controlled by The National Party and only stories and information that were approved by the government at the time was published in newspapers.

At this time, the media was controlled by white people and often black people were painted in a negative way.

Journalists were told what to write and when exactly this information should be published. The public was informed about certain happenings or invents that worked in the favour of the government at that time. Journalists were not allowed to write about the corruption and abuse of power that was taking place. The media used other stories to distract the public from seeing what was really going on. Television played an important role during the Apartheid era. The government controlled what was shown on national television and this would often result in people who watch television believing whatever they saw on TV. This was a clever and quick way of “brainwashing” the viewers and making them think in a way that the government wanted them to think.

At this time, the party in which Nelson Mandela belonged to, African National Congress (ANC), was banned and journalists were not allowed to cover news stories based on the former president and his party at that time. No quotes from Mandela was allowed. Censorship was used freely by the National Party to control what the media published.

Newspapers at the time who were not reporting in favour of the Apartheid government were not allowed to operate. A number of anti-apartheid local newspapers were launched in the 1980s (Lloyd, L. 2013). These newspapers were launched by frustrated journalists who were upset with mainstream media who failed to report on the brutality of apartheid. Apartheid government then banned all of these publications after feeling threatened by them.

As it is, the media controls what is important and what is not. By writing a story and publishing it in a newspaper or posting it onto an online website, the media has the power to make you believe that whatever news is reported on that this is what is and should be important to you.

Democracy changed the broadcasting landscape in a big way.  Many laws concerning the media were uncensored. In the case of television and radio, laws were lifted and journalists were then encouraged to report on news surrounding the ANC. An example was Mandela’s release being televised across the country. This allowed every South African to witness a great time that would go into South African history books. Since then, the way news was broadcast has evolved. From newspapers, one can now find everything you need to know on online websites, as well as on social media like Facebook and Twitter.

A leader is someone who motivates a group towards achieving a common goal (Ward, S). When it comes to the workplace, the role of a leader is to “direct workers and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company’s needs”. Having someone who is a leader is an extremely important part in any team. A leader’s role is to inspire his team members to do better and be better and work together as a team to reach the end goal. All of the team members need to be on the same page and be inspired to do good to get the job. A leader easily picks up what qualities and skills each team members has in the team. This person also takes note of individuals’ strength and weaknesses and uses this in a way to benefit the company and get the task done.

Having a leader in the media industry is important as this allows people to take note of team members strength and use them as an advantage to complete the end goal. Often, employees do not want to be told exactly what to do on a daily basis and managers often do not take into consideration which employees excel in which departments, their focus is to just get the work done. So people will be pushed into many directions under a manager’s watch, as the end goal is not to inspire people to do better but to get the job done and move on. Leaders understand not only themselves but those individuals on the team. Leaders give a positive impact on the employees in the workplace. Leaders believe in originality and promote change. This also opens a direct and clear passage of communication between the person in charge and the team members.

A leader leads by example and hopes to inspire those working with them. If the person in charge is doing an exceptional job at what they are required to do at the workplace, it is more likely that the team members would also strive to do their best and work because they love it and were inspired, other than do it because it needs to be done. It is important for the person in charge to be a leader instead of a manager because this will allow for employees to step forward with suggestions for brand new ideas they have come up with in order to reach an end goal. Leaders also “have an open mind to suggestions and can handle criticism well. Because of their ability and character, they are respected and admired” (Jeremy, S. 2014). A leader’s “authority and power are in the hands of the people” and because of this, a leader is most times more effective than a manager. People working in the media should be open to approaching their leaders with new ideas or story angles without having the fear of being rejected.  With an environment that is not dominated by one person constantly handing out instructions and never giving his staff the opportunity to raise concerns, this will make the flow at the workplace more effective.

Good leaders in the workplace have proven to provide better end results. It is a leader’s responsibility to create a vision for employees or staff. This vision needs to clearly indicate where the employees are, where they are heading and where they would like to be (Benavides, C. 2013).

The leadership philosophy that can be used in South Africa today is the Democratic leader philosophy. These type of leaders seek advice and input from their fellow team members (Stanley, L. ND). With this particular philosophy, the leader “consider meeting the goals of the organization to be a collaborative effort from all participants”. Team members’ input is encouraged to ensure that the task is completed and that at the end of the day, the job gets done without any hiccups. A Democratic leader has a clear vision of what they want, where the team as a whole should be heading and where they will end up at the end result.

The leadership model that would work is Action-centred leadership. This leadership model focuses on getting the job done with the input of each team member. If this was a way of thinking for leaders in general, specific tasks would be completed sooner than expected. The team as a whole would be working towards completing the task as soon as possible while relying on each individual to play their part in making the completion of the task a successful one. A leader using this model will also have to review individual people doing the job and support them. It is the responsibility of the leader to make sure each individual person is doing their job and doing it correctly. The advantages of using this model is that it is easy to use and that the model adapts extremely well (Culcjainm4, 2012).

The leadership theory likely to work in SA media is Transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is when a leader works with a team to identify a problem and work on where things can change for the better. This is needed in SA media as many managers are focused on doing things their way and often don’t stop to figure out where the team as a whole is going wrong when approached by a crisis.

This type of leadership will be an advantage in the South African media as this is needed in many companies in the country today. Getting to know each staff members’ strengths and weaknesses are of utmost importance. This way the leader can give specific tasks to individuals and employees can complete the task or their specific part because they have the necessary skills to do so. We often see in many companies that many teams are managed by people who are managers only and this often adds to conflict within the workspace. Managers are focused on getting the task done instead of figuring out ways that the team as a whole could complete the task. Managers tend to want to control the outcome of specific tasks, whereas leaders aim to inspire their team to do better and do whatever task they were given to the best of their ability.


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