Challenging times demand strong leadership no matter what business you are in and our business needs great leadership in all facets of our business.
Here are some thoughts on the type of leadership great managers deliver that hopefully will inspire you.
My old friend Chuck Knight has always demonstrated great programming leadership and he says:
“Be a leader. Don’t get too high during the highs, too low during the lows. Ask questions of your listeners. Respect their answers. Develop a plan to give them what they want. Pay attention to detail. Value and work with talented people. A Brand Manager is an artist with a blank canvas. Hear it in your mind. Continually coach specifics. Give your people your time. Have regular meetings. A leaders job is really about giving your team confidence. Dream. Have fun. Always be honest.”
What a great series of thoughts from someone I know lives and breathes his words because of his love for our business.
Matt Basile has spent many years around our business and was one of the earliest digitally focused specialists that I observed and worked with years ago.
Matt has a beautifully simplistic view of leadership traits of great managers: “One doesn’t need a title to be a leader. I’ve always gravitated towards those who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. Someone who walks the talk and does what they say they will do. As a leader, I always try to be honest, fair and genuine. Everyone on your team is an individual and may be motivated by something completely different than another team member. A good leader recognizes that and knows how to communicate in such a way that inspires and encourages team members to achieve success.”
Matt’s mention of genuine authenticity as a leadership trait is key in a hyped up world that we live in.
When I brought up via Linked In that I was looking for input on great leadership traits I heard from a bunch of on-air talent who weighed in with there perspective: and seeing the potential of who the next “stars” are
John Willis who has worked in Boston Radio for many years and currently anchors for Total Traffic says “A good manager is focused, stays on message and can easily communicate with the staff. They stay positive and consistent in their demeanor. They are always willing to listen and are open to suggestions and ideas. They support their staff at every turn and are willing to invest in their success.”
Roxanne Steele who is on air for Cumulus Detroit highlighted some of her best managers and their leadership traits: “The best managers I’ve worked for were Todd Cavanah and Dave Robbins in Chicago, and Tim Roberts in Detroit. They always communicated with me personally so we knew where we stood as a company and where we were going. It’s truly the key to success! Also honesty. If you can’t be honest and share feedback(good or bad)you can’t grow. Having compassion and showing your employees you care goes a long way.”
I’m so glad in particular that Roxanne highlighted the late Dave Robbins because I also witnessed first hand how he loved his craft and practiced great leadership as well.
It was a mission for Dave Robbins!
Shawn Tempesta who is on-air for Entercom also weighed in as well: “In my opinion great leaders are accountable. They don’t project failures on other around them. Great leaders don’t wait for others to take the first step. They take bold action and act in discovery and desire to reach higher heights-not fear of an idea not working. Great ideas un-tapped are a massive waste. Honest is integral. Be a straight shooter. Don’t sugarcoat or beat around the bush. If you lose trust, you lose everything.”
Honesty is a key theme here as you can clearly see.
We’ve all heard the comment over time in our business that “for being in the communication business we don’t communicate well” and on air talent Marissa Lanchak adds “communication, consistency and building a spirit of great team work” are important leadership attributes.
Tim Moore is an SVP at Iheart and he crystalized things nicely from a managers perspective-“ Leaders need to set an example by being willing to dive in and work at day to day tasks that used to be delegated. I think that open communication-including the big picture stuff that is often withheld from the troops is critical.
Never has hiring been more critical and retention of exceptional people been more vital along with seeing the potential of the “stars” in their formative stages “
Lastly, my view on leadership is that these are all great words that MUST be backed up by actions!
DWYSYWD=Do what you say you will do remains an important guiding force for the present and the future!
As we wind our way thru a tumultuous year, it is important to stop and think about one of our most important assets, TALENT.
How are you keeping your talent engaged?
How strong of a bond have you solidified with your talent?
Does your talent believe you have their back and will they run thru walls for you?
Some thoughts on how to do this at a time it is more important than ever that they feel good about the work they are doing.
1)Share the state of the state with them on a regular basis.
This includes pertinent ratings results and goals, revenue goals, social meeting engagement goals.
Sometimes we take for granted that everybody has the scorecard and knows where we stand and that is not always completely true.
Communication is a key priority in keeping talent engaged especially in these times that can be so isolating.
2)Acknowledge great examples of flawless execution
This can be another instance of what we as programmers take for granted and don’t remember to acknowledge their talent.
Flawless execution is always a top priority whether it be: stop set placement, great storytelling, the art of the tease or in general spectacular content “in the moment.”
You can never overdo acknowledging flawless execution and it will help foster great talent engagement.
3)Do you listen to how talent currently themselves is feeling about their work?
Sometimes just listening and letting talent talk is the most valuable way you can engage with them.
This is especially important now as in many cases talent continues to work remotely and they can be feeling isolated like many of us due to Covid restrictions.
Ask good questions but make sure you are a good listener and you are willing to hear the answers.
4)Do you find opportunities to let your talent dream big?
Give them the freedom to think of what they have previously viewed as impossible.
Your job as a leader is to give talent the opportunity to dream and to help them realize their goals.
5)Discuss what talent is engaged with outside of their radio world.
By understanding the rhythm of their life you have a better chance of appealing to their most passionate interests.
Sometimes this discovery just happens in casual conversation and that’s ok as well!
6)Make it fun/not a chore for talent to be with you.
If they dread the experience with you they likely will be tuning you out.
Be sensitive that you aren’t droning on for the sake of conversation.
7)Practice empathetic leadership with your talent.
If they know you understand truly where “they are coming from” the better the engagement in the relationship.
By understanding talent in more detail you’ll understand the right buttons to push.
8)Knowing who talent is engaged and entertained by is a helpful window inside their thought process.
If you understand who has influenced or mentored talent throughout their career you’ll be more effective in managing them moving forward.
9)Make sure talent knows how obsessed you are with details of their show as a specific way to demonstrate that you care about them.
There is nothing worse than talent feeling you aren’t paying close attention to the work they are producing.
10)Don’t forget to fill talents “bucket” up with positive reinforcement on a regular basis.
This is such an underutilized technique and it is critical to building a positive and productive mindset for talent.
You have to be a straight shooter but keep the balance of the conversation positive and upbeat.
Radio keeps mentioning local whenever it can, but do stations really walk the walk?
It’s easy to throw the term around but like many truths often these are half- truths.
So what are some examples of localism at its best?
1)Your station is SO embedded in your community that the political leaders are friends and family to your organization.
They look to you in times of need and you have a track record of delivering.
They ACTUALLY listen to your brands!
2)Your stations are SO embedded in your community that getting your brands played on the radio in high traffic locations is a lay- up.
You are a dominant force in your community and are heard EVERYWHERE!
3)Your stations are THEE go to source from other media outlets in the community.
This is especially true in breaking news cycles around music, pop culture and other news worthy events.
4)Your charity relationships go well beyond just running a PSA to support an event.
Charities are true partners with you on a local level and together the partnership produces amazing results!
5)Your local sports franchises don’t hesitate to partner with you even if you aren’t the rights holder in the marketplace.
Team ownership knows the value of a great local relationship.
6)Your brand is so local that when out of towners consume the content they are occasionally lost and out of the loop of some of the conversation.
This local content can consist of slang, new local trends or anything that is hyper-focused to the market.
7)Your stations are so local that they truly are the local social network of the marketplace.
Great brands connect with an ear to the ground in the local marketplace better than any social network ever can.
8)Your local brands are so connected to a market that they set trends and create them rather than follow trends.
This can manifest itself in the form of local events, local catch phrases or any other local movement that unites an audience.
9)Your stations are so embedded locally that your programming leadership knows every zip-code and every nuance of every town and village, so you can super serve the audience and their passion points.
Your brands know how to blanket the local marketplace.
10)Your brand is so attached locally that with a world of competitive choices the other options are irrelevant to the marketplace.
Localism is clearly a competitive point of difference for the radio business.
Quality must always come first, but great local radio gives any competitive option a difficult battle to fight.
What are your examples of localism at it’s best?
With the passing of Labor Day means the passing of the Summer and on to Q-4 and with that it’s important you and your team come out of the gate strong.
Here are 10 steps worth considering that can help you be effective doing that:
1)Pull your team together(in whatever form of in-person or virtual)and do a State of the State Meeting. This is all hands on deck and it is designed to give everyone a sense of what the current state of the marketplace is, how you are performing and what you intend to do to be successful.
This is step one allowing you to set the table to organizing your mission.
2)Meet one on one(or virtually)with your key team members to get a sense of how they are doing personally, how you can set them up for success and what are the priorities in doing that.
This is a way for you as a leader to look them in the eye and really determine if and how they are up for the challenge.
3)Have your sales leadership do a quick assessment of the largest clients by category by reaching out to the clients, asking them what their key priorities and needs are and determine next steps.
4)Have your programming leadership work with marketing and promotions and do a quick database survey of your audience to see what they are feeling these days as well.
This is a reality check to help guide your brand’s tone and temperament in communicating to the market.
5)Evaluate current imaging campaign for a station brand and freshen up the production pieces to reflect the mood of the market.
If the audience for example desires each brand EVEN MORE for “escapism” in this current climate then have that reflected in the attitude of the imaging.
6)Evaluate all music clocks(if you are a music station) to determine effectiveness relating to your most recent research and make necessary tweaks to freshen up what is coming out of the speakers.
7)Evaluate your current airplay(if you are a music station) to determine it most effectively executes your latest research and if you are playing the best music.
8)Make sure that all social media platforms are consistent with best messaging for the current times.
9)Do a post mortem of all promotions for first three quarters as a beginning step of planning for 2021. What worked, what didn’t and how to create more of the magical elements that are needed to stand out.
10)Dream big as an organization with your sites set on how to turn our many challenges into big opportunities!
Return a phone call
Answer an email
Help a colleague who has lost a job
Encourage a colleague with a new venture
Support an industry initiative
Propose an alternative idea before shutting a good idea down.
Salute a past mentor
Find someone new to mentor
Share an interesting article that might improve someone’s work
Thank someone for their valuable time
Challenge the status quo
Respect the past
Re-imagine the future
Seek great before settling for good