A few years ago, I interviewed Dennis
Bakke, co-founder and longtime CEO of the worldwide energy giant AES
Corporation. Dennis told me how he helped create a company where
each employee was encouraged to dream, work hard, and make important
decisions. He chronicled his leadership journey in his best-selling
Joy at Work.
I have thought of Dennis' words often
as I interact with leaders of Christian-format radio stations
desiring to empower their staff to fulfill their individual calling.
I especially remember Dennis telling me that his goal and passion
was to try to create the most fun workplace in the history of the
world. He said that with a straight face. Well, even though he
retired several years ago, I checked out the AES corporate values on
their web site...and there it was:
Have Fun Through Work:
We work because work can be fun, fulfilling and exciting. We enjoy
our work and appreciate the fun of being part of a team that is
making a difference. And when it stops being that way, we will
change what or how we do things.
Hey, we can do that in Christian
radio! Everyday can be exciting when the staff makes it a priority
to identify how the message and music is making a specific
difference in the listeners spiritual journey with Christ. We are a
small team compared to other formats in our region but we can be the
most unified team because of our calling. By the way, there is a
Bible Study Companion book that walks you through how to create
such a workplace environment by treating staff with respect, giving
them unprecedented responsibility, and holding them strictly
Since that time, I have made it a
point to ask staff at Christian stations, "What characteristic
of your leaders do you feel motivates you to excellence and creates
an engaging atmosphere."
consistently offered three characteristics:
- The leader
communicated an exciting vision for the potential
influence of the station and told them how they might fit in the
- The leader
demonstrated availability when staff needed
assistance or counsel.
- The leader
displayed faithfulness to God in their daily
habits and faithfulness to staff in helping to provide
opportunities for personal, vocational and spiritual growth.
Makes sense to focus on these traits
as a leader. President George H.W. Bush called this "the vision
thing." What a challenge to communicate a clear vision of the future
that is simple to grasp, highly desirable and motivational for
current and prospective staff. Seems like we'd rarely lack for
quality team members.
Reminds me of the story of Walt
Disney heading to Orlando to create Disney World. Unfortunately he
died before the dream was completed. During the dedication
ceremonies one of the Disney execs leaned over to Walt's widow and
whispered, "it's a shame Walt wasn't hear to see all this." Mrs.
Disney responded, "Well, you don't understand, Walt did see all of
this and that's why it's here!"
Today, fast growing Christian radio
stations are built on visionary leadership— empowering staff to
invent entirely new ways of responding to community needs.
What do you think about when I
mention the term "visionary leadership?" How have you seen it
practiced? Why don't you weigh in and post your comment?
E-mail Mark Kordic
With 24 years of experience in corporate and non-profit leadership
positions and almost a generation of experience in listener
supported Christian radio, Mark Kordic helps radio stations across
the country grow income from major donors and pledges.
Before joining Advocace, Mark was the Director of Media Advancement
for CDR Radio Network-The PATH®, the media division of Cedarville
University in Cedarville, OH. At The PATH® he successfully
served in a number of marketing and executive positions, helping
fund network expansion. Kordic also previously served as assistant
pastor at Shawnee Hills Baptist Church in Jamestown, OH.