When I answered a multitude of questions for a strengths assessment, it was revealed that my greatest strength is that I am a learner. This made sense to me. Reflecting on my childhood and background the evidence was clear; I have always loved learning by coming up with new ideas and trying new things. I continue to learn by observing others, active listening, reading, and exploring. Although I’ve learned much during my past three decades in radio, consulting and psychology, I’m aware that there is always more to learn. This is true for all of us, even a genius like Albert Einstein who said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”
Do you know your strengths?
Are you confident in them? Do you utilize your strengths in your business and relationships? As important as this is, we need to be careful not to narrow our focus on our strengths. If we do, we will sacrifice balance. For example: I spend so much time in learning mode—reading numerous trade publications (both broadcasting and psychology) while also staying up to date on trends in marketing and employee development—that I must remind myself to apply what I learn. How do I do that? For me, it is by teaching. Everything I do professionally includes opportunities to teach, as well as learn. Allowing myself to utilize my strengths in learning has provided me with opportunities to become a better teacher, which develops balance.
As you navigate your way to a more successful career and life, give yourself a few breaks! Don’t expect to be naturally good at everything. While you exercise your strengths, be aware of opportunities to improve upon what you’re not great at. Be sensitive to how your role in your broadcasting business can help others exercise their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses.
Leadership is like raising a family.
There are so many changes and challenges in today’s broadcast industry, that we’ve all heard it described as “dysfunctional.” How do you even begin to improve upon that?
Think of yourself as the mom and dad of your broadcast company ‒ the primary, custodial parent of a dysfunctional family. A wise parent seeks answers and help if the kids begin acting out or show destructive behaviors, struggle in school or have trouble getting along with others. There are often extenuating circumstances that even good parents couldn’t foresee and were unable to quickly rise above. This could be a job loss, financial instability, an illness, divorce, death, and so on. When a parent brings a child in for therapy, they’re admitting they don’t have all the answers. Whatever they’ve been doing up until now isn’t working and they want help.
Whether you are the CEO of the entire organization, or the regional director or market manager – you are the parent of your workplace. In our industry there is plenty of help and knowledge to be gained. Attending conferences, subscribing to leadership newsletters, workshops or trainings within the broadcast industry, and outside the industry will provide plenty of tools for success.
How are the kids doing?
Does your team cooperate to improve productivity, performance, revenue, and problem solving? Until you learn how to navigate through disruption, turmoil, competitiveness, and negativity, your work environment will be a dysfunctional system.
I spent a lot of years working in that kind of environment, without the tools I have today. Our radio business was a family operation, and we were able to share ideas freely. We had complete control of the creativity of our stations, so a simple concept could be discussed in the hallway in the morning, and as a result, we might be airing a new promotion a short time later. Yet, as with most families, other dysfunctional family patterns and conflicts often arose.
During the few years that I worked as an account executive in the corporate broadcast environment, I had to learn to keep my ideas to myself or somebody might hijack them. I’m not implying that I hadn’t experienced business betrayal during my early years—I’m not immune to the dark side of business and there was plenty of that with competing stations and other media in our community– but it wasn’t happening inside the radio station. Our family had a common goal – for the station to be a success. Even in a dysfunctional setting, there are some strengths.
When I transitioned to a different work culture in my radio career, it was counter intuitive for me to keep my ideas to myself or confined to a small group of colleagues. With the notion of competition between stations, I was discouraged from sharing ideas and thoughts because somebody might steal that idea along with the credit.
Think differently. Collaborate.
If you must protect what you’re doing to compete, how can we learn from each other? How is anyone supposed to think outside the box? That’s not easy to resolve in today’s business environment, but there is one thing that radio can do ‒ collaborate more. We don’t have to share ideas that shouldn’t be hijacked, but we can learn from each other. We can commit to working together to apply new ways of handling difficult situations, new ways of seeing and perceiving along with improving communication and behaviors. This is an industry that needs to come together. Yes, competition is tough and there are even more ways you have to slice the revenue pie, but radio can be stronger if stations work together.
Not everyone needs therapy.
I love being a psychotherapist and building a relationship of trust and understanding with my clients. I love watching them improve their lives. But not everybody needs psycho-therapy; often a person simply needs to do some things differently ‒ gain a new perspective, cultivate fresh ideas, and establish goals along with accountability.
You love your radio family. Do what’s right for them.
Start by discovering your strengths and how to utilize them. Then flip them to see the areas that need to be improved, even if uncomfortable at first. Develop a culture where thoughts and ideas are welcomed freely, without fear. Learn conflict resolution and improved communication skills. As you do, you’ll find less stress, more happiness, and more balance. You, everyone on your team, your business – and the entire radio industry will benefit.
Kelly Orchard is a professional speaker, author and trainer. In addition to more than 30 years in the business of broadcasting, she has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. Kelly specializes in working with radio groups and individuals in times of trouble, turmoil and transition by creating a positive and profitable workplace. She is a 2008 graduate of the NABEF Broadcast Leadership Training Program, among others. She is also an FCC Compliance Specialist and licensed psychotherapist. Reach her at email@example.com.