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Use Both Sides of Your Brain for Your Business

By Diane Ladd (Hunter) and Robert Charles Hunter

Creative Drives My World (Diane’s perspective): As a partner and President of the film company Exxcell Entertainment, my responsibilities include not only producing and writing but also directing films. When I hire actors, staff and crew, I bring upwards of 120 individuals together. My challenge is to get the highest quality work accomplished in the shortest amount of time. Like everywhere else, the dollar counts.

With actors, I want the greatest talents on the planet.  But, cooperation and listening count, not only with me but with fellow actors as well. I expect at least 100% from an actor, all the time.  I expect forthright honesty and ethics on my sets.  Both traits are not always easily found in the same person.

If I have the choice between two actors of similar abilities but one appears more cooperative, I’ll most probably opt for cooperation that saves me time and money. The buck stops with me and I believe in building the strongest team possible, including my crew.  While experience and a quality resume are critical, I want individuals who are enthusiastic about the job and the product that we’re presenting.  I want a crew that exudes integrity and moral values.

A film crew, like most teams, becomes a family for the short term and clearly affects each other.  People have personal lives and I expect that to be their own business. But if things like affairs, family issues, and health problems affect their work, those can cause problems in our work family, affecting the energy on the set and ultimately my own work, not to mention additional cost. So what’s a person to do?

I’ve created a new job on my sets – a Harmonizer.  This is a person whose own energy and abilities are calming, perceptive, and reflect intellect, all packaged with integrity and trust; someone who can keep confidences and tempers all they do with wisdom and compassion.  Anyone on my set who has a problem with anyone else, including me, can go to that Harmonizer to be heard. Their conversation is confidential. The issue is the key – how can it be resolved to keep a close and pleasant work environment? This saves wasted time and aggravation.

An example of this was on the set of a movie that I co-produced, wrote, directed, and co-starred, Mrs. Munck.  During the filming, one of our crew approached my Harmonizer and said that he was in real trouble and didn’t know what to do or where to turn.  The man shared that he had awakened that morning to find his wife gone and a note on her pillow.

After 25 years of marriage she’d run off with his best friend.  He had thought of getting a gun but didn’t know whether to shoot his friend, his wife, or himself.  He was hurt, confused, and in a lot of pain.

Our Harmonizer immediately got a psychiatrist to come to the set and talk to the man privately.  This man never missed a day of work. When our film was over he thanked our Harmonizer for actually saving his life and helping him to look at things and start over.  No one knew about this incident, including me.  The Harmonizer helped solve an individual’s problem and avoided disruption among my crew while saving me time and money.

Business must include a certain amount of detachment and discernment, but all business has a human component. We must deal with each person with integrity and honesty so that we may all achieve the same goal – a job well done that elicits pride in everyone involved.

Logic Defines My World (Robert’s perspective): Managing day-to-day operations of a business differs significantly from managing the talent and creative side of any enterprise.  It’s those differences in style that enable individuals to be effective while being highly productive.  It’s also style that can cripple an organization and cause constant turmoil within the ranks.

Before the film business, my background grew from a family-owned business with about 100 employees to my responsibilities as CEO of a $4 billion division of a Fortune 15 company.  Obviously, running a small personal business and a large corporation appear to be significantly different, but the attributes of success are basic fundamentals that are exactly the same in both.

In my personal management evolution I learned very quickly that I couldn’t deal with every individual and gain optimum results from them in the same way.  In any organization there are people that do different things well – that’s what makes a strong, productive organization.  The challenge is to deal with these people as individuals while remaining consistent in the application of policy rules and treatment that you administer.  

Now take the leap to the Entertainment Industry where individual personalities come into play with very creative minds. Here, you may well sacrifice consistency and discipline to gain the full extent of an individual’s talent.  Basically, creative people don’t care for organized structure because they feel it inhibits their essence, whereas people in the day-to-day operations of an organization know that discipline is the only way that jobs are done efficiently and accurately.

A leader of any organization has the responsibility to make sure “one size fits all” when it comes to the way the individuals in the organization, the human resources, are handled. Communications, lines of authority, and inter-departmental relationships must be consistent and disciplined to ensure effective workers who enjoy what they do and look forward to coming to work every day.

Diane’s concept of Harmonizer is an interesting one.  A Harmonizer is in fact an Ombudsperson that collects organizational information and processes it within the policies and guidelines established, yet makes it fit every individual – something every manager should do, but sometimes forgets.  

It’s very easy to build your organization with quality talent and manage them toward your goals, enlisting their support and contribution every step of the way. There are three steps to making this work for you:

  • Choose Well.  Selection of your team is a two-way street. Your choice in an individual reflects your skills, so insist on the absolute best talent for any job, then leverage their strength.

  • Be Consistent.  Any policies, rules, or guidelines should be applicable to all team members – what works for the janitor, should work for the CEO. If it doesn’t, make sure you can explain your rationale to everyone that asks – because they will!

  • Reward Playing by the Rules. Promote and reward only those that play by the rules. If you reward a scofflaw, you just reset the standards for your organization.

So what’s the bottom line? It’s a leader’s responsibility to ensure the organization has both the people and the structure that enables success while encouraging individual fulfillment. If you don’t encourage creativity, you’re liable to end up just another average company. Be bold in your recognition of talent, support them with the tools they need, up to and including a Harmonizer or Ombudsperson, and you’ll see people strive to make your organization the best you can imagine. Set the rules, be consistent, and get ready to reap the rewards of a winning enterprise.

Learn more about Diane Ladd.

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