The best leaders in publishing (and how to join them)

Header image showing letter blocks spelling out the word 'LEADER'

If you thought you were going to read about top leaders in our industry, think again! Firstly, ‘best’ is way too subjective a term, and it would be practically impossible for me to pick certain people over others. Secondly, you really don’t want to read even more words about other people. I’m guessing you would rather gain some knowledge and ideas to make yourself into a better leader, maybe even a great leader. If I guessed right, you’re going to love this.

The publishing industry attracts the most amazing and diverse people, doesn’t it? I have loved people watching at book fairs and other events, both in-person and online. Even though publishing professionals come in all shapes and sizes, there are still some things that the most successful ones do consistently. If you want to be successful as a leader in the publishing industry, I’ve listed some easy things you can do.

Promote yourself without being arrogant

You need people in your organisation as well as the wider industry to know who you are and why you are good at what you do. However, it is a fine line between self-promotion and boasting, and you know how you react to people who boast! Look for opportunities to present in meetings and get your name and face seen.

One of my favourite ways to demonstrate expertise is to showcase others who are doing great work. This way, the person you’re praising looks good, and so do you. Not only that, but people remember you have done that and look to reciprocate. See if you can blog or post about someone else without any agenda, just to shine a light on them.

Ensure you are connected to the right people

You need people around you who support, encourage and challenge you. You also need to find great role models who inspire you and ideally a mentor who has been there and done it. Most people follow leaders who are already famous. I prefer not to follow the crowd, but rather to seek out interesting people who are sharing interesting ideas and that keeps my own thinking fresh.

Real thought leadership is out there but sometimes in unexpected places. Check your social media accounts and ensure you are not just connecting with other publishing professionals. The best ideas come from allowing yourself time and space to browse in new and different areas, and then to reflect and be creative. It might sound radical, but this can be done offline too! The next time you are walking outside, really look around and spot something new that you can relate to your work.

Provide thought-leading content and ideas

Top leaders, in my view, are those who give clarity and direction to others. It may surprise you to learn that the majority of people do not want to lead. Most people are content to sit back and follow someone else. Therefore, you will be appreciated when you step up and take the lead!

I’ve mentioned several ways to generate more ideas; now you need to commit to getting those ideas out there. Regular posting of innovative ideas will position you as a thought leader, while giving you the self-promotion I mentioned earlier. The key is to put extra thought into your content and the way you present it.

Think longer term

If you have been in publishing for a while, you will have seen many changes, and this past year has brought even more. The old adage that ‘change is the only constant’ is proven over and over with companies restructuring, rebranding, merging and, sadly, going out of business. Even people who stay with the same organisation tend to change roles, hopefully being promoted.

Whatever you have been thinking about your career, I suggest you include some medium-term and longer-term goals as well. I know it is hard to think long-term when it seems life is changing on a daily basis, but if you put the thinking time in now, when opportunities come up, you will be prepared. Spend the extra time to write your goals down, as it has been proven that people with written goals out-perform those who keep their dreams in their head.

Mindy Gibbins-Klein MBA FRSA FPSA is an International Speaker and Executive Coach specialising in turning experts into thought leaders and published authors. Mindy has authored and co-authored 9 books, including 24 Carat BOLD which was endorsed by Seth Godin. Her latest book The Thoughtful Leader challenges leaders to be more thoughtful in all senses of the word.
A native New Yorker, Mindy currently resides in the UK and is Founder & CEO of The Book Midwife®, a multi-award-winning book coaching company, and Panoma Press, an independent publisher of business and personal development books. Her TEDx talk “Sometimes You Need to Change Yourself to Be Yourself” has nearly a million views, and showcases Mindy’s passion for helping people from all under-represented groups to become leaders, and for all people to approach life more thoughtfully.
Mindy has an enviable list of more than 1000 published clients who have become real thought leaders and successful authors. She has been an international speaker for 25 years and has presented to and coached over 50,000 business executives and entrepreneurs in 18 countries on creating powerful content and thought leadership. Her own online and offline content has been syndicated, licensed and showcased worldwide.
As a regular media contributor, Mindy has been featured over 100 times in national and specialist press, radio and television over the past 10 years. She is a regular contributor to entrepreneur and executive media in several countries.