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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Navigating Change

Change is scary and uncomfortable for most people.

It just is.

Humans like to know they are safe and secure. We want to know we have enough money for food and someplace hospitable to rest our head at night. So, when pink slips start flying like they did at KGO last week in San Francisco or organizations are merged and realigned like Corus Entertainment last week in Canada, fear takes hold. It’s instinctual.

But resisting change is actually more lethal for entertainment and information industries like radio (see: music industry, Blockbuster Video, newspapers). There is hope and opportunity in change. You just have to be willing to see it and seize it.

Yes, what happened in San Francisco to KGO is tragic. It was a juggernaut of a radio station that has slowly and systematically been starved of resources and been a victim of benign neglect. The dedicated staffers who were sent packing after years of pouring their heart into a product deserve better. They tried to find a small part of a corporate beast they could love and quickly realized the beast was indscriminate. But now they are free. Unschackled. No longer beholden to a dream of yesterday’s KGO. There is life after KGO right Gil Gross??

Gil Gross Facebook

Right Claudia Lamb?  (Article: KGO and the Death of Radio)

In Canada, a completely different scenario. Not one of downsizing and cost-cutting but of investing and growing. Eerily, employees feel similar. Corus just completed a $2.6B acquisition of Shaw Media and new corporate structures were unveiled. The questions came fast and furious; Why? Where’s this worked before? What’s it mean for me? How can this possibly work? When are they going to fire me? Don’t they know we’ve never done it this way before?

Fear. It’s contagious.

differentKeep in mind, change isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s just different. When companies change it often creates opportunities. New managers, new faces, new processes and procedures and fresh eyes on old problems. It doesn’t have to be scary. It should be exciting. Anytime you get to work for a leader who has bold vision and a sense of purpose and direction embrace it, champion it, and rejoice. The opposite is stagnation. The opposite is KGO.

It reminds me of a phrase I quickly learned while working at ESPN; “evolve or face extinction.” In the past week, we’ve seen this played out in both directions in dramatic fashion.

 

The Naked Truth

marilyn-monroe-1953The news is devastating to the 13-year old boy inside us all: Playboy magazine will no longer print nude pictures. The magazine that coined the word “centerfold,” will no longer have a use for the word it originated.

Playboy without nudes? That’s like getting money from a bank without having to talk to a teller, filling your own gas tank at the service station or listening to radio that isn’t being transmitted through a frequency to your bedside alarm clock.

It is progress, evolution, and necessary for survival.

I recently finished the audio book “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal rose through the ranks of an Army most of us recognize: order, discipline, structure, pictures of pin-up girls, top-down commands, and a clearly defined org chart. This is the Army depicted in movies, which won wars, and saved thousands of lives. This is the Army where if a commanding officer orders you to “jump” you ask “how high?”

BN-IJ077_bkrvsc_JV_20150511155300As General of the Joint Special Operations Command in the mid-2000s, McChrystal quickly realized war was no longer like chess where one man was commanding all the troop movements of his enemy. Times had changed. Taliban and Isis were playing by different rules. The terrorists were recruited, trained, given the game plan and then empowered to make decisions in the moment. There was no way to keep up. As soon as JSOC thought they had a target in their sights, they had to wait to get the “go ahead” from McChrystal. Sometimes that meant waking him up and debriefing him, before he could make a decision. Each time, the targets vanished.

So they changed. McChrystal held a JSOC strategic meeting each day for everyone on the team. A video conference beamed to wherever his forces were stationed. Gone were the days where the General had a master plan and the forces were on a “need to know” basis. Now everyone knew everything. That created a shared consciousness. In addition, each unit was now empowered to execute in the moment based on collective intelligence, situational circumstances and timeliness. They became a team of teams.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAI_AAAAJDIyM2NiYTIwLTNjYTgtNGJkYy1iZTA2LTU5ODQ5M2E0ZWIxMAIt worked. The JSOC became more effective and agile. It morphed from a traditional org chart to an organizational web. McChrystal was hands off and eyes on. He was leading, not commanding. “Thank you” replaced the cold, directive language he was taught in the Army.

Thinking different.

Embracing change.

Adapting to technology.

Creating a collective intelligence and a shared consciousness.

Respecting and empowering your staff.

This isn’t Google or Apple or a quirky start-up in Silicon Valley, this is the Joint Special Operations Command.

And now it is apparently Playboy Magazine.

For radio it is time. Our enemy is no longer the station down the dial. It’s all around us and three steps ahead. We are battling for people’s time and attention on the device of their choosing, for on and off air talent, for digital solutions and distribution platforms, and for monetization. Frankly, a fifth front could be a public perception problem.

This is no longer a problem solved by a billboard campaign or a clever TV spot. To win we need to do what we do differently. “Team of Teams” may be a good place to start.

Forgotten Advice

Facebook has a new feature that it will tell you about “memories” you have on this very date dating back to when you joined. Through this fun time warp I discovered I wrote a blog before this one. I forgot that for two months in 2008 nearly every day I wrote a “note” on Facebook and called it my blog. I love reading them and thought I’d share a few. Strangely, the advice remains strong seven years later.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

This is one of the 100 or so great pieces of advice I have received during my career. It is simple advice, which works when adhered to. The Chinese restaurant down the street is great at this. I’ll call in an order and the woman will tell me it will take 45 minutes. 35 minutes later the delivery driver is at my door. I’m excited that my food is here early, I tip the driver more than usual, I enjoy eating the food and everyone is happy. If they would have guaranteed 30 minute delivery or less and it arrived 35 minutes later, I would have been upset, disappointed, maybe not have tipped the driver at all and probably would have been annoyed while eating my food. It’s the same food and the same quality of service, but a different promise resulting in completely different experiences by the consumer.

I Will Change Someone’s Life Today

Today, I have the dubious distinction of telling one of my employees that because of the great technological advances in our industry, we are replacing his position with a computer. Ouch. This employee isn’t my most valuable player, but he is hard worker and responds to coaching. And it is his life. He’s been here almost 7 years.

When did we as a society determine that things are “better” when a beating heart is no longer needed to make decisions that affect how our fans consume our product? Sure, it’s cheaper. And that is no small issue in these fiscally challenging times. However, it occurs to me as we take these giant steps into the automated future, we are taking huge leaps backwards in customer service.

When a computer is in control there is no one to answer the phone, there is no one to make a judgment call, there is no one around to do what’s best, there is no one to call for help, and there is no one putting their human energy into your business. The end result is perfection – cold, sterile, lifeless, perfection. How can we ask people to be passionate fans for our business, product, or service — if no passion goes into creating it?

I will change someone’s life today. If you are a fan of my product, it could be you.

Tuesday – I Have a Thought

Notice how often to you walk with your eyes firmly planted toward the floor or your feet. Today, lift your head, make eye contact, smile and say hello to people in the hall. Even if you don’t know the name of your coworker look them straight in the eyes, smile and say hello. Check that. Do this ESPECIALLY if you don’t know the name of your coworker. Watch what happens.

Coffee Confession

I have a confession. I have been cheating on my privately-owned coffee shop with Starbuck’s. I’m not proud. In fact, I’m embarrassed.

Here’s how it happened.

Right around the corner from my home is a small, privately owned coffee shop. They know me by name. They know what I drink. They will still serve me my coffee if I show up with no money. A couple months ago, I stopped going. Instead, I started making tea at home and taking it to work with me. I was trying to be healthy. I was trying to conserve money, resources, etc. Over time I missed my coffee, my morning chat and the daily routine.

However, instead of returning to “my” coffee shop, I would drive right by it and go to Starbuck’s. It’s not that I enjoy the taste of Starbuck’s coffee more than my coffee shop – I don’t.  I didn’t return to the private coffee shop, because they know me. I had pangs of guilt for leaving them. It had been a while since I had shown my face, there would surely be questions. So, instead I opted to go for the cold, sterile, factory of coffee where there would be no questions and no guilt. Except there was. Guilt that is. I felt guilty giving my money to the 800-pound Gorilla. I felt guilty based on the blog entry I wrote on August 18th “Starbucksfication.”  So this morning, after two months, I returned to my coffee shop. I pulled up to the speaker and heard, “Good Morning, we’ve got you started.” No questions. No guilt. Same service. I was treated as if I never left. I’ll return to tomorrow.

In order to take actions in life and business you need to actually take the action. We get caught up in the drama and our own fears of what MIGHT happen that we are left paralyzed. Today, go forth with gusto. Stop listening to the chatter in your head and start taking action.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson Throws Out Some Radio Advice

Russell_Wilson_at_the_2013_Jessie_Vetter_Classic,_July_1,_2013“I want to be the guy who studies the most and be the smartest guy. I try to learn as much as I can about myself, about my teammates, and I think the biggest thing is I always want to learn something.”

– Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback

Russell Wilson is the star quarterback of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. This week, the second-year player is rebounding from his first ever loss on his home field. During his weekly press conference, he talked about overcoming the adversity and how he prepares to be the best he can each week. It occurred to me that in his role as quarterback he is both talent and manager and his advice is relevant to more than just NFL quarterbacks. So I offer up today,…

Russell Wilson’s Tips for Radio Talent and Managers

Focus on the positive. “I’m focused on what we can do extremely well. I try to really understand what I’m doing well and then I start looking at other things and try to see if there’s anything else out there.”

This is important advice. Too often in radio we focus on what went wrong. Try building on what’s going right, what works, and put yourself or your on-air staff in position to win every day.

Don’t dwell on the negative. “Sometimes, after a bad day, you need to get back to work, because that way you can put it away and move onto the next opportunity.”

Most times when things go bad everybody knows it. There’s no reason to keep beating a dead horse. Take a quick moment for everyone to acknowledge what happened and move on.

Don’t wait for feedback. “I watch everything I do; every little detail. I’m extremely critical of myself.”

In general, Program Directors and Brand Managers rarely give feedback effectively, specifically or often enough and many talent detest air-check sessions claiming to hate listening to past shows. Both sides need to step up. There’s no better way to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats than reviewing specifics of what happens on the air. If you’re not reviewing the air product with some regularity, you’re missing a great opportunity to be a remarkable broadcaster.

Be Curious. “I want to be the guy who studies the most and be the smartest guy, I try to learn as much as I can about myself, about my teammates, and I think the biggest thing is I always want to learn something.”

Curiosity is key in being better at your job from office dynamics and on-air chemistry to topic development and improving your skills and knowledge as a broadcaster. Sometimes we need to look at our life as a four-year-old and ask, “Why?” an annoyingly number of times.

Own Your Mistakes. “I just have to be better. That’s what it really comes down to. I’ll take the blame for it. I’m excited about that because I love a challenge.”

No one has time for finger-pointing, hallway whispering or co-workers who duck out of the way when trouble arrives. Raise your hand, admit your mistakes quickly and publicly. It quickly defuses the situation, builds trust and respect amongst your peers, and clears the negative energy of the office so success is possible.

Other quick insights from Russell Wilson you should follow:

  • Be able to adjust.
  • Be able to make things happen.
  • Study your craft.
  • Work with a sense of urgency.
  • Be poised.
  • Stay locked into the moment.
  • Keep believing in yourself no matter the circumstances.

Whether you are a talk host, DJ, manager or board operator – you are the quarterback of your domain. Take this advice and prepare yourself for a championship performance every day.

For Different Results – Change

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  CAUTION: For more predictable results, keep doing what you’re doing.

 

 

 

 

Too often, I hear employees (hosts, producers, board ops, etc) want more, expect more, and demand more, but are unwilling to change to get it. There’s an overwhelming sense of entitlement in our business from the newcomers to the veterans.

–       I want more money, but I don’t want more work.

–       I want to be on-air, but I won’t work weekends or holidays.

–       I want full-time, but I can’t work Wednesdays.

–       I want better ratings, but my show is perfect the way it is.

–       I want a job, but I’m a veteran of the business so I won’t apply or audition.

Change starts with you.

I know a sales manager who has been in his same office for 13 years and needs more and better results. So he changed. He packed up his office and moved one office over to the left. Now he has a different perspective, a little different view out his window, and his sellers have to change too – or they’ll end up in the wrong office. He has a pep in his step, sales are trending up and now others are wondering if they can change offices too. As you change, the world will change around you.

On February 8, 2013 I made an announcement to my employees that left many of them and others I know scratching their heads. I announced my resignation. I said, “I am a believer in the brands, philosophies, purpose, and the people who breathe life and personality into our products.  I believe we are positioned for success.  I also recognize we have evolved greatly in the two years I’ve been here.

As organizations evolve, their leaders need to evolve as well.   As I’ve considered where we are and the road ahead, it has become clear to me that the type of leadership needeChanged to keep moving forward requires someone with different strengths and passions than mine.  So, with mixed emotions, I have resigned my position.”

“Why would you do that?” the collective “they” asked.

I wanted change.

This Friday is my last day. I took action, but my change is just getting started. I’m going to create new routines, patterns, and behaviors to change the opportunities and experiences in my life. The family is going on a month-long RV trip, I’m going to start taking better care of me – physically, mentally, spiritually, I’m going to take on more household responsibilities, I’m going to write more, spend more time in nature and I’ll probably be a more active networker.

All these changes in my life will lead to more change in my life, new perspectives, and new opportunities. Change isn’t easy, it doesn’t reward those who wait around, but rewards those who trust.  I have no idea what’s next for me, but I’m confident exciting, new opportunities are around the corner.

Worth Talking About: Redefining Leadership

I know the job of a radio management team is hard, but I contend many stations and broadcast groups have lost their way. For the most part, discussions are focused on increasing ratings, meeting and exceeding revenue goals, increasing operating income, cutting expenses, and keeping tabs on increasingly shrinking budgets. Far too infrequently the questions managers ask of each other revolve around the quality and excellence of the product, how our fans and clients will be better served, or how decisions impact the employees of the radio station. I contend radio is thinking too much with a calculator and too little with a soul or about the souls who work so hard. What if there was a way to strike a better balance?

In the new book “Soul of Leadership,” Deepak Chopra challenges leaders to relinquish control, power, and authority and focus on unfolding the potential for greatness in all you serve. He suggests the four most important qualities that people want in their leaders are trust, hope, compassion, and stability. Based on my experience, it’s hard to contend with his analysis.

Deepak Chopra’s Principles of Leadership

L = Look and Listen

E = Emotional Bonding

A = Awareness

D = Doing

E = Empowerment

R = Responsibility

S = Synchronicity

Chopra also cautions, “As a great leader you must also avoid 3 toxic A’s: authoritarianism, anger, and aloofness.”

Maybe Deepak isn’t your cup of tea. That’s okay.

Here’s the point:

Ratings and revenue discussions can’t be ignored by radio management, but having been in many of these meetings, I believe often times high-level execs are too concerned with managing away problems and covering their hide than actually leading the station. Managers are quick cut people, projects and budgets to bring the station into profitability instead of inspiring, engaging, and empowering the staff they’ve assembled.

Want more from Deepak Chopra? Here are some videos where he discusses his new book and leadership principles: http://www.youtube.com/user/IntentVideo