The unapproachable boss - sound like anyone you know? Sadly, this is something that the majority of us have experienced in the work place. But is this method of leadership a thing of the past? We spoke to Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer for leading trend forecasters WGSN, about how the human approach is the most effective form of modern leadership.
"It’s not a case of sitting in an ivory tower barking orders," explains Buzasi. "When I started out, editors had shiny offices guarded by ranks of assistants, but it’s not that way anymore."
Carla Buzasi is a content innovator. An editor and journalist, with experience across both print and digital, she is also credited as the founding editor of The Huffington Post UK. This was a position she was awarded with after directly approaching another well-respected female leader in the media, Arianna Huffington, back in 2011. Her previous jobs saw her as editor of Marie Claire online, and also as deputy editor of Glamour.com.
In 2014 she left The Huffington Post for WGSN, after being approached to take up the offer of a newly created role. She went from being in charge of a team of 45, to leading 400. A huge, but well deserved step; when her decision was announced it was reported that under her time as editor-in-chief, monthly unique visits to the Huffington Post site had grown to eight million.
Today she leads an international team of journalists, editors, trend forecasters and designers, with 16 offices around the world.
"Who to employ. That’s where it all starts. Get the right people in the right roles. The roles being just as important - it’s no use having amazing individuals in the wrong roles. Everything flows from this," she notes.
With the nature of WGSN’s services, the team Buzasi leads have to be at the forefront of trends and new developments - always one step ahead of their 80,000 user base. How does she help to encourage and endorse forward thinking within her team?
"I’m lucky that I run a team containing some of the most creative individuals in the world. They organise monthly 'creative socials' where the team discuss anything and everything they’ve seen, watched, eaten, explored, visited and discovered over the previous four weeks.
"We also have Trends Weeks twice a year, when everyone gets together to brainstorm the important cultural, social, consumer and style trends we’ll be tracking for the forthcoming years."
As the unrivalled trend authority for the creative industries, WGSN has grown from strength to strength, fixing itself as a highly influential resource. Developments in technology have undoubtedly helped towards success, predominantly in ability to increase reach to subscribers. Buzasi also notes the links between changes in technology and the role of a leader with their employees.
"I can know exactly what my team are up to! Thanks to Instagram I can keep track on all of them, which is a distinct advantage when they are spread across the world.
"But, on a more serious note, I think social media makes you more accountable - people can be very vocal if they don’t think you’re doing a good job."
With a career that spans over 14 years in the media industry, Buzasi has a clear opinion on what it takes for a leader to be motivating, and have a strong impact.
"I think you need to be a people person, and able to communicate well," notes Buzasi. "Marie O’Riordan is the best editor I’ve ever worked for. She was editor-in-chief at Marie Claire when I arrived to lead their digital offering. She challenged me, supported me and pushed me every day I worked for her. I learnt a huge amount about leadership in a very short time under her tutelage."
Having seen both the good and bad styles of leadership in her own career path, what is Buzasi doing to ensure that she continues to grow and develop as a leader?
"Talking, talking and talking. With interesting leaders I meet along the way - I had a great lunch with the founder of Dezeen recently. To my direct reports, who are excellent at pushing me to be better, and to people in roles above my own. I find most people are happy to give you advice if you’re not afraid to ask."
So if she had a piece of advice for anyone going into a leadership position for the first time what would it be?
"Don’t sweat the small stuff. Work hard, pay attention and learn from your mistakes and you’ll earn people’s respect."
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