Mark Graham on Leading and Managing Digital Media Teams

In Chapter 10 of 17 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, digital media executive Mark Graham answers "How Do Leadership and Management Differ in What You Do?"  Graham talks about his continuing process developing leadership and management skills working in digital media.  This ranges from managing by helping team members get positive work outcomes in a timely fashion and leading by using motivational and confidence building techniques. 

Mark Graham is currently a managing editor at VH1, an MTV Networks company. Previously Graham worked in editing and writing roles at New York Magazine and Gawker Media.  He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English.


Erik Michielsen: How do leadership and management differ in what you do?

Mark Graham: I’m a relatively new manager. I’ve managed people in the past but it’s usually been teams of 3 or 4 people, and now I’m closer to the 10 person range and so it’s definitely been a learning experience to be able to communicate the goals that I have and the goals that I’m being handed down, and be able to transfer that information to specialized teams of people within an organization. So in terms of being a leader, things that I always try to do are—I’m a big fan of complimenting people on work that does well. 

In the web world, analytics are very easy to come by, you know exactly how many people read your story, you know exactly how many people commented on your story, you know exactly how many people shared the story, be it on Facebook or Twitter. And so really sort of throwing props, if you will, to people who have done stories that have resonated with people on our larger team, and really making sure when we have big team meetings that we give rounds of applause to people who’ve done the most popular stories of the week, and really be able to reassure them, you know, of the work they’re doing. 

And from a management perspective, that’s a little bit different, that’s more making sure the trains are running on time, making sure the people are getting their work done, and so there’s a little bit of—just sort of staying on top of things, that is definitely different than leadership, I see leadership as helping your team and helping build confidence in people about the work they’re doing and the work that our overall team is doing. Whereas management, at least to me, is just making sure that we’re getting the things done that we need to get done, and making sure that it gets done in a timely fashion.