America's Best Leaders: Q&A with Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News channel
How do you empower others to become leaders?
My first job is to protect the asset and make us win on the air. My second job is to teach people to be really good at their jobs, so that makes my first job easier. So I just sort of keep that in mindprotect the product, protect the air, and teach these people how to keep it that way. And encourage them, because whenever I leave the field, I want to leave people behind who can play. That's the way I look at it.
What's your management style?
You have to manage firmly; [employees] have to know there are consequences. They have to know that you'll take consistency, pattern, intent into account, people, but you can't let down your colleagues. But it's more complex than just "You screwed up I'm going to yell at you". That just creates the kind of resentment that festers and is never very useful. For example, I have a man I have to go down and apologize to, a guy yesterday I got a little bit mad at because he gave me a flip answer, gave me a wiseass answer I wasn't ready for. I let him know he needs to grow up a little bit. I've got a lot of confidence in him, he's very strong editorially and probably a good executive some day, but every once in a while he's got a little arrogance and a little lip in him, and I spanked him a little yesterday. But I'll go down in a while to make sure he's O.K. He's one of the best we've got, just has to grow up a little.
You've just taken on the chairmanship of the Fox Station Group as well as Fox News. How do you handle all of the demands on your time?
I don't know how we get it all done; there is a lot. I think all my training in live television probably helps a lot with what I do now. In the '60s, television was all live. You couldn't put a sign up and say, "We're not ready, come back in three." You just had to go, and that's what I do now. I'm just ready to go.
We're a pretty flat organization, so if anybody needs to meet with me, or needs to meet with each other, they're all authorized to have their own meetings and make decisions. They're all experienced hands and know how to do that. There are 15 meetings a day going on, whoever they think needs to be in it, and then somebody will inform me of what's happening, or, if they want my input or a decision, they'll give me the facts, present the options and I'll make a call and we move on. I try to keep all meetings to the shortest possible time. We don't dither around much.
There's work everywhere I go here, but it's fine. My assistant Judy will get rid of 30 percent of it for me. This morning when I came in I gave Gina, my secretary, and Judy, my executive assistant, probably 35 percent of the stuff that has to get done but I don't personally have to do. They know me, they know what to do, they'll go do it. The secret every morning is to get your workload down under 70 percent to start with, and then start dealing with what you need to deal with. And prioritize and reprioritize all day, that's all.