Wednesday, February 25, 2004

"The fish stinks at the head first" Eddie Ruben

Here is the 2004 revision of my monograph on leadership first published in 1993. Today all media, electronic and dead tree, clearly suffer from a lack of leadership. We do have some fine leaders working in media today but too few for the many and significant challenges in hand. Written with radio broadcasters in mind, my sense is the themes and issues raised may well apply to discussions of leadership at practically every media property.

Inspired by my "creative Godfather" Bob Henabery, Johnny Martin, Larry Bentson, SGM George A. Warren, Tom Bolger, Dwight Case, Eli Schulman, Kevin Sweeney, Paul Drew, Bill Gavin, Jim Yergin, Harold Geneen, Bill Hartman, Lee Simonson, Bob McArthur, Jim Schulke, Mel Karmazin, Bill Burton, Wayne Cornils, Mickey Luckoff, Bill Clark, Ron Fell, Roy Shapiro, Erica Farber, Lynn Christian, Mike Oatman, Ed McLaughlin, Dick Harris, Ted Turner, Jim May, Bill Stakelin, Herb Frank, Arch Madsen, Dickie Rosenfeld, Jerry Lee, Herb McCord, Nick Verbitsky, Bob Hoffman, Elmo Ellis, Bruce Reese, Vinnie Curren, Bill Kaland, Joe Smith, Bill Hogan, Pat Norman, Dr. Gary Hamel, Kipper McGee, Chris Lane, Jeff Smulyan, Glenn Morgan, Lucky Cordell, Norm Goldsmith, Jack Swanson, David Sanks, Ginny Morris, Lee Harris, Jim Scully, Ed Bell, Paul Gallis, George Lois, John Powless, Mark Durenberger, Charlie Colombo, Chuck Blore, Dan Mason, Stu Olds, George Johns, Ted Atkins, Irving Azoff, Jerry Lyman, Harvey Nagler, Jo Interrante, Dick Rakovan, Eddie Fritts, Tim McCarthy, Brian Kelly, Ken Greenwood, Dick Stone, Sheila O'Connor, Perry Ury, Jim Thompson, Lee Bayley, Joel Hollander, Edward R. McKenna, Marv Dyson, Roone Arledge, Tom Asacker, Bob Klein, Diane Sutter, Bob Collins, Tom Sinnott, Kris Kridel, Dave Logan, Norm Feuer, Stanley Marcus, Chuck Tweedle, Ron Ruth, Jack Knebel, Fred Jacobs, W. Tom Simmons, Scott Shannon, Allan Chlowitz, Roger Russell, Michael Damsky, Pierre Bouvard, Jon Quick, Bruce Johnson, Drew Horowitz, Mark Niblick, Steve Goldstein, Rick Sklar, Red Auerbach, Denise Oliver, Jack Thayer, John Gehron, Don McGannon, Dave Salemi, George Hyde, Jerry Bobo, Clive Davis, Eddie Ruben and other great leaders I have known.

A Great General Manager

A great general manager is an advocate for ownership, an effective business leader who adds value and creates wealth. A great general manager understands leadership is an art, believes leadership is being then doing, and she/he knows you can’t lead unless someone is willing to follow. A great general manager values “people skills” and is devoted to being a good and fair person with a reputation for creating a stimulating, positive and challenging environment. A great general manager serves as the playwright, director, cheerleader and supporting player who sets the stage for greatness. A great general manager brings out the best in others, instilling a bias for action, a preoccupation with results. A great general manager builds on strengths – her/his own strengths, the strengths of her/his superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; and on the strengths of the situation. A great general manager is a doer who leads by example. A great general manager is the evangelist who convinces each associate they are not merely employed at a radio station but materially involved in a worthy quest, an illustrious cause, a renowned mission - the building and stewardship of an institution, a legendary show business brand. A great general manager is a bigger than life original, she/he walks their talk, confident to be themselves, at ease in any situation. A great general manager has a life and an engaging sense of humor. A great general manager is aware of the powerful magic in timing, differentiation, attitude, suggestion, a smile, a word of praise. A great general manager drives ratings and revenue and makes their numbers. A great general manager accepts responsibility to the shareholders, associates, advertisers, listeners, and the community; shaping events rather than being shaped by them. A great general manager is brilliant on the basics, persistent, takes charge without taking control, never underestimates the competition and never gives up. A great general manager is innovative, leveraging knowledge, imagination, technology and change to create advantage. A great general manager cares enough to ask each associate “Are you having fun?” and “What needs to be done?” A great general manager views business as a game, a race to build competencies, a marathon with no finish line. A great general manager knows it’s not enough to do things right; she/he must do the right things, as must her/his team. A great general manager has a tremendous desire to make something happen, to make a difference and a lasting contribution; she/he gets the job done. A great general manager knows where her/his time goes, is visible, inclusive, self-directed, vulnerable, focused, supportive, dedicated, devoted, attentive, accessible and accountable. A great general manager thinks, does her/his homework, gains perspective and context from study and reflection; she/he succeeds sooner by failing faster, never afraid to go in the opposite direction to find a solution, she/he transforms experience into wisdom. A great general manager puts metrics to work. A great general manager respects the care and feeding of ideas, recognizes creation is the province of the individual, not a committee, and has the courage to carry out ideas. A great general manager is always preoccupied with the what and the why. A great general manager originates, keeping her/his eye on the horizon, just as obsessed with maximizing opportunity share as with growing market share and understanding money is a trailing variable. A great general manager “gets it” when it comes to values, standards, ethics, beliefs, diversity, character, relationships, promises, priorities, vision, details, audacity, intensity, continuous renewal and managing expectations. A great general manager understands it’s all in the casting and accordingly hires smart; sensitive to the endowment of intellectual capital, she/he is consistent in demanding that people reach their potential. A great general manager ensures the team attracts, develops and retains amazing, exceptional talent. A great general manager honors the individual, accepts people for who they are and doesn’t criticize them for what they are not. A great general manager is a world-class negotiator, a compassionate coach, an excellent listener, a strategic thinker and a tough-minded competitor. A great general manager knows that all business is problem solving and learns to be decisive, learns to act on her/his intuitive skills, facing reality as it is, not as it was or as she/he wishes it to be. A great general manager encourages dissent, openness, gives license to be contrary, always confident to solicit questions and foster challenges, respectful candor. A great general manager recognizes the advantages inherent in tact, diplomacy, honesty, flexibility, sensitivity and trust. A great general manager is a creative collaborator. “We are such stuff as dreams are made of” so said Shakespeare and a great general manager knows dreams, teamwork, faith, patience, integrity, positioning, common sense, commitment, hard work, proprietary intangibles and careful planning are the stuff legendary radio stations are made of. A great general manager believes chance favors only the prepared mind, that luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity. A great general manager is shamelessly enthusiastic and puts the infectious qualities of passion, optimism, grace and courtesy to work every day. A great general manager knows what they don’t know, is intellectually honest, profoundly curious, pays more attention to the questions than to the answers and has an insatiable appetite for knowledge. A great general manager chooses to work with “business partners” rather than vendors. A great general manager is a trustee of the license and protects it because without it there is no radio station. A great general manager has the ability and desire to engage, incite, inspire, abet and move people forward. A great general manager is known to be consistent, direct, principled, resourceful, disciplined, self-reliant, tenacious, and resilient. A great general manager considers every associate as talent and respectfully values the gifts of each. A great general manager is committed to a lifetime of learning, reading, observing and growing. A great general manager is a rare breed of entrepreneur, a performance artist who stays impassioned about the daily task in hand - committing great radio. Above all a great general manager earns and deserves the unparalleled honor, the privilege, of being called a great broadcaster.

David Martin 2004

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