Let Go & Lead
Patricia Harrison President & CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

On the Importance of Strong-Minded Team Members (2:32)

MARIL MACDONALD:
I know you’re a big believer that a leader doesn’t do it all by themselves, so how does a leader really enlist followers?

PATRICIA HARRISON:
You have — this goes back to letting go because you have your vision, you’re motivated by a mission, but you can’t do it by yourself, so you have to find like-minded people but who are very strong because you just don’t want yes people.  If you have yes people, then, then you have clones.  You’re not going to get the ideas or really the tension, the disruptive, uh, conversation that leads to the better idea.  So you really, really have to have strong people and those strong people have to pick strong people.  So it’s really about team building and then you have to trust your team.  And if you have a strong team you do trust them because they will be strong in their vision.  So it, it all works together almost like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, if you’re lucky.

MARIL MACDONALD:
And you talked about, uh, finding strong people who are like-minded but not yes man.

PATRICIA HARRISON:
Yes.

MARIL MACDONALD:
So by like-minded do you, I’m assuming you don’t mean think exactly the way you think.

PATRICIA HARRISON:
No, but they do have to be on the same page.

MARIL MACDONALD:
Yeah.

PATRICIA HARRISON:
So if you believe in public media and you believe that the Federal appropriation is an appropriate investment on behalf of the American people, then I don’t want someone who’s part of my team who doesn’t believe that.  So they can have different ways of expressing it but you really have to be on a similar page with variations, and you can have intellectual arguments and then you can talk about the best way to run something, or approach something, or various initiatives but, uh, at the end of the day there’s got to be one vision.

MARIL MACDONALD:
So it sounds like you’re also saying you need, you need to have a shared purpose and shared values —

PATRICIA HARRISON:
Yeah.

MARIL MACDONALD:
— but then we can debate the strategy —

PATRICIA HARRISON:
Absolutely.

MARIL MACDONALD:
— of how we get there.  Is that —

PATRICIA HARRISON:
All the time.

MARIL MACDONALD:
— really what you’re talking about?

PATRICIA HARRISON:
I have a very strong team.  They’re exhausting.  They don’t agree with anything.  And, we’ve been working together very closely for seven years.  They’re really just the best.  I’m very fortunate.