James DuBose on Decisive Leadership

Leadership is a vital skill and quality that not everyone can possess. Not everyone is destined to become a leader and for those that are, there are various leadership styles. James DuBose is an entertainment industry executive in television and film production. Throughout his illustrious career, he has adopted his own leadership style that he believes has allowed him to be successful while allowing his team to reach their full potential.

After graduating from Wake Forest University with a degree in Broadcast Communications, James DuBose landed his first job in the entertainment industry as a program assistant at the Emmy award-winning Brad Lachman Productions Company. Over the next 20 years, he worked as a television producer in sports and entertainment and as a filmmaker.

James DuBose launched DuBose Entertainment in 2006 and produced several reality tv shows. He launched a music production company, DuBose Music Group, in 2009 by joining forces with rapper MC Lyte. James DuBose is currently the head of programming for a new interactive streaming channel, Fox Soul. The channel celebrates black culture with the intent to entertain, educate, and inspire.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?


From a young age, I had a natural talent for many sports including football, basketball, and baseball. While sports may not seem challenging, they require a lot of discipline and hard work and in the process of playing sports you learn a lot about team work as well as leadership. I was also always interested in the entertainment industry. I was really inspired by stories with substance and I had a passion for meaningful storytelling. I wanted to be able to tell the stories about struggle, survival, and combating the challenges of everyday life.

Why is it important to seek out a mentor?

 It is important to have a mentor in your chosen industry to inspire you to move forward. They can give you advice and give you a unique perspective that you may not have had otherwise. My mentor was one of my Communications professors at Wake Forest University.

What is one failure you’ve experienced throughout your career and how did you overcome it?

Early on in my career, I experienced a lot of success and I tried to do too much too quickly. I was constantly trying to get ahead and was always looking for the next big idea instead of paying attention to what was right in front of me. In the process, I neglected my mental health and was in a downward spiral of depression. I shifted my focus from my work to my mental health and was able to overcome the depression. Due to what I have experienced, I know I will never neglect my mental health again.

How does one establish a leadership style?

 Honestly, a lot of it has to do with trial and error. You try a few different styles and see what works best for your team as well as yourself. There is no “one size fits all” approach. Some people establish styles that are less constructive than others and that’s when you will need to revaluate. I would also suggest really taking some time to figure out exactly what type of leader you want to be so that you can establish those guidelines for yourself. Do you want to rule with an iron fist or do you want to be the type of leader that is approachable and trustworthy? Unless you have a goal in mind, you won’t be able to figure out what type of leadership style you want to have and that will inevitably lead to a disconnect.

 What is one habit of yours that allows you to lead effectively?

 I don’t neglect my mental health. I take time to meditate, journal, and exercise in an effort to have a healthy mind. It allows me to be productive and to lead with empathy and understanding.

 What is an important habit for any leader to adopt?

 An important habit is to consistently focus on professional development through reading books about leadership and entrepreneurship or through attending seminars and workshops. You have to realize that as a leader, you constantly have to adapt to changes and a lot of behavior changes over time. It is important to keep this in mind.

 What makes a successful leader?

I personally believe that a decisive leader is an effective leader. It is important to know when to stay determined, focusing on your overall goals and when to pull back and change tactics. For example, this pandemic has raised a lot of dilemmas for leaders. Instead of scaling and growing, many leaders have had to focus on surviving the economic downturn by making difficult decisions regarding layoffs. This situation is really dividing the successful leaders from the ineffective ones by emphasizing how they deal with challenges.


What advice would you give to future leaders?

Expect challenges. Every leader is faced with a significant challenge at some point in time so try not to be surprised when they come about. You should work to come up with scenarios should these challenges arise. As noted, we are in the middle of a pandemic that has caused various challenges in terms of leading a business and a team. A lot of leaders had to make decisions on the fly. As the economy recovers, leaders will continue to be challenged. I think being prepared is an underrated quality that a lot of leaders should keep in mind.