Great Leaders Win

If you consider the most successful radio executives you have been exposed to throughout your career, often the consideration first is given to their technical skills.

For programmers, you might admire the skill at working with talent of Brian Ford, or the creativity of Jeff Allis, or the ability to have a station ‘marry a market’ like Steve Mummery.

These technical traits are important, but in themselves they are not what make a great programmer, or a great executive.

Ultimately, the most important and consistent trait of great executives is their capacity and ability to lead.

Paul Thompson is not the most important person in Australian radio history because of his technical abilities (although they were clearly strong), but rather his place in history is assured because of his exceptional ability as a leader.

It is very easy to lead when things are going well, it is only when a station, or group, faces challenges that true leadership can be illustrated and these are the moments that great leaders live for. It is also the time when the value of great leaders becomes most apparent. 

The ability to lead can be honed, and developed, but it there must be ‘seed’ inside the individual to start with. Leadership can’t be faked. It can’t be sporadic. And it can’t be under-estimated.

Leadership requires extraordinary self-awareness.

Whilst you may not have to be the best technical programmer, you do need to able to honestly identify the weaknesses in your skillset and hire people to cover them. This requires self-awareness and vision.

Leadership requires vision.

The great leaders have always had a vision that they refined, studied and implemented. There is always a reason, and always many people who are prepared to tell you why something may fail: having the capacity to lead a team through the implementation of your vision successfully requires courage.

Leadership requires courage.

The courage to back your vision. The courage to identify the right, and wrong, people and act accordingly. The courage to mentor, critique and inspire high calibre on-air talent. The courage to promote people to positions that even they don’t realise they are ready for. The courage to make decisions.

Leadership requires decisiveness.

Managers analyse, leaders decide. This does not imply blindly rushing into a decision, but rather gathering the facts, considering the options, making (or empowering people to make) the call, and accepting responsibility for it.

Leaders are responsible.

Responsible for creating a culture and an environment that encourages people to back themselves and accept accountability, responsible to create an environment where people want to win, feel valued and come to work because they feel inspired, not because they get paid.

Leaders are inspirational.

These traits are not confined to someone in a CEO or Group role. Even if you are responsible for one station, they might be a reference point for you to work to become the kind of leader you wish to be. If you consider the people you admire, or who have mentored you over the years, or who you have watched as strong leaders – chances are they would tick a number of the boxes. Perhaps all of them. However, the responsibility to develop into a great leader ultimately lies with the individual.

Great leaders make you want to win. Both for yourself and for them.

Great leaders win.

Dan Bradley is Executive Director of Kaizen Media; an international media, management and marketing company.

You can contact Dan here.


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