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Lessons from Bob Pittman


For entrepreneurs, there are a lot of different “styles” of ways to lead people and run businesses. Finding the right one for your personality and your business is an important step to success. Bob Pittman, the Chairman of Clear Channel, provides a great example.
Pittman’s leadership style was heavily influenced by the circumstances that led to him being the leader. To get the money he needed to pursue a passion (flying), he got his first job working at a radio station at age 15. But by age 19, he was managing the radio station. At the age of 19, then, he had to learn how to lead.
A lot of leaders follow the “General” model—it’s a military style, one person leading the rest and everybody else following. Because he was so young, he knew no one would accept that. So instead, he became a team leader—and that model worked. It meant giving everybody a voice. And the foundation of being a team leader is respect—you have to respect every person on your team, from the highest person on the totem pole to the lowest. You want to know what people really think, encourage them to talk and share their opinions and beliefs, even when they disagree.
That means encouraging dissent—people should bring up different viewpoints and not just agree with everybody else. And even if people do agree, he encourages them to think about what dissenters would say, to see things from different perspectives. Consider the negatives and really look at the best-case scenario, the worst-case scenario, and the in-between.
Pittman also encourages his team to “weed the garden,” as he calls it. Here’s what that means: every business tries multiple new things each year. Some are successful, and are obviously continued. Some are clear failures, so you stop them. But the rest are somewhere in between—not really successful, but not a failure. And those usually just get carried over from year to year. And before long, those things add up, slowing your organization down. It’s best to discard the losers and don’t be afraid to get rid of things that down work, no matter what.
Published: January 17, 2014

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