Should We Really Be Following A Bullfrog?


(By John Shomby) I spent 13 years of my radio life in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, an area well-known for its connection with the military – particularly the Navy. The largest fleet of Navy ships, the Atlantic Fleet, is there and there’s a base for training, housing, and deploying Navy SEALs.

Most of my neighbors had some tie to the military and several of my closest friends there were either current or former SEALs; thus, I became fascinated with the whole organization. I learned so much about how they were selected, how they trained, and learned a lot about their philosophy.

Ironically, several months ago, I was given, as a gift, a book by a 40-year Navy SEAL veteran, Admiral William H. McRaven, entitled The Wisdom of the Bullfrog – Leadership Made Simple (But Not Easy). For this to mean something, you must understand what a “Bullfrog” is to a Navy SEAL. This title is given to that person who has served the longest on active duty, something Admiral McRaven achieved back in 2011 after dealing with every possible leadership challenge.

I would highly recommend reading the book as the Admiral helps us through our challenges as leaders.

One of the most important attributes of Admiral McRaven’s leader is Adaptability. Bullfrogs are known for their ability to adapt to various environments. As a cluster manager, programmer, sales manager, or in any radio leadership position, with all that is happening in our business whether it be AI, reduced staff, a very unpredictable ratings service, etc., it’s important to have the flexibility to be able to react to any challenging situation decisively and guide your staff to think the same way. “We’ve always done it that way,” should be one phrase that gets retired now in your building.

Bullfrogs are resilient creatures, able to withstand harsh conditions. Whether it’s a down rating period, flat or down revenue month, or loss of a major talent, there will be setbacks. No matter the issue, perseverance and resilience will permeate the rest of your staff if it starts at the top.

The bullfrog has a survival strategy that includes being decisive, patient, and observant. Think strategically every day so that each decision has the right information behind it. Work with your staff on being a step ahead in technology, market events, and topical situations. 

Bullfrogs do croak a lot. That’s their form of communicating and they do it constantly. No question, we all know how important communication is with your staff. Articulate your vision, goals, and expectations daily. Do this enough so that your staff can repeat it all back to you and, most of all, believe it.

Bulldogs are bold and fearless. If you’ve ever come across one, you know. Courage is so crucial in leadership. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Our industry has its share of lemmings, don’t you or your staff be a part of that. Despite the uncertainty, it’s okay to “go for it,” occasionally.

Bullfrogs are also known for blending into their surroundings rather than being noticed all the time. A true leader learns as much (or more) from their staff than they teach. Know your limitations and surround yourself with people who complement your strengths with theirs.

When a Bullfrog is in pursuit of its prey, it is relentless and persistent. Be focused and determined no matter what’s ahead. Your staff sees this and they will follow. 

As the subtitle of the book says, “Leadership Made Simple (But Not Easy).” These are not new concepts to most in leadership positions but, when you take on each day with the mentality of the Bullfrog, you’re operating at a whole different level.

Based in Nashville, TN, John Shomby is the owner and CEO of Country’s Radio Coach. He is focused on coaching and mentoring artists, radio programmers, and on-air talent to help them grow and develop inside the radio station and the industry. Reach John at [email protected] and 757-323-1460. Read John’s Radio Ink archives here.


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