Tiffany LaBanca, SVP of Global Internal Communications, 21st Century Fox

Building trust is not easy. We are living through the democratization of the world’s information, which is heightening expectations of transparency, putting demands on leaders to communicate more information, more often, and in engaging and personal formats.

June 2015

Please provide a brief overview of 21st Century Fox.

21st Century Fox is the world’s premier portfolio of cable, broadcast, film, pay TV and satellite assets spanning six continents across the globe. Our content reaches nearly 1.5 billion subscribers in 100 local languages every day.

What do you think is the biggest communication challenge for leaders today?

Building trust at all levels of the organization is an ongoing challenge. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer identified that employees are 2 times more likely to trust their peers vs. their CEO.  They believe what they hear at the water cooler, not what comes through an email or internal memo.

But building trust is not easy. We are living through the democratization of the world’s information, which is heightening expectations of transparency, putting demands on leaders to communicate more information, more often, and in engaging and personal formats. Regular open communication naturally builds trust and loyalty because people simply appreciate hearing the truth. But it also creates some risk as you also have to deal with legally imposed quiet periods, or leaders who aren’t naturally comfortable being so vulnerable. It requires proper training and a commitment.

The challenge lies in balancing what can be legally shared and the leader’s ability to be comfortable out of their comfort zone. If you can find that balance you have the opportunity to create an empowered and engaged workforce.

What do you think is the difference between leading and managing?

Leading is about providing people with a sense of purpose, inspiration, and motivation to keep moving forward towards a common goal. You set the direction and you consistently communicate the vision and ensure everyone knows their role in bringing that vision to life.

Managing is about assigning and clarifying roles, developing processes and structure, and making choices about resources.

But in today’s fast-moving economy, the separation between leading and managing is not that clear cut – sometimes you just need to be ambidextrous – a leader must manage and a manager must lead.

What separates great leaders from others when it comes to inspiring creativity?

I admire leaders who inspire creativity by ensuring everyone feels as though their contribution matters and that they are recognized for their ideas. They build diverse teams and welcome diverse opinions.  They create an environment that encourages risk taking and eliminate the fear of failure. They stimulate visionary thinking by removing any constraints by encouraging broad thinking.  One of my favorite quotes is from U2’s frontman: “Vision over visibility – look beyond what you can see to imagine what could be.”

How do you motivate people?

I believe it is important to truly get to know the people on your team – what they are passionate about, what they want to learn and what their career aspirations are. Then you do your best to create an environment where they can thrive – where their contributions are appreciated, they‘re managed by objectives, offered flexibility and feel supported each and every day.  That’s a mix that seems to work but you’ll have to ask my team if I’m effective!

What motivates you?
  • Starting something from nothing
  • Change
  • Challenges
  • Inspiring and developing people
What has been your greatest leadership challenge to date?

It’s always a struggle balancing the people needs and the business needs.  I aim to support each team member’s professional development and ensure I’m providing each of them with stimulating work and enough room to grow. Sometimes that’s difficult because I’m also leading them through change while they are managing the day-to-day deliverables. For me it’s about finding the right balance – I believe it is equally important to ensure the job gets done and you deliver exceptional results as it is to ensure your people feel valued and that they’re on a meaningful career path.

It’s a lot like being a parent; you never think you’re good enough.

Fast Facts

Location:
New York City
Number of employees:
26,000
Number of years in current role:
9 years running the Internal Communications department; 15-year tenure
Previous experiences:
I worked at Canon in Singapore in the Corporate Communications department with responsibilities that spanned 13 countries.
First job:
Developing film at a PhotoMat store; I was 14 years old.
Leader you admire the most:
John Quincy Adams stands out because his leadership style really resonates with me - “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

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