Feature

Turn the radio on for business advice with a behavioral science spin?

Sure, say management consultants George Watts, EdD, and Russ Riendeau, PhD, who host "The Business Doctor" each Sunday morning on WCPT Air America AM 850.

The show is the only Chicago-based radio program devoted to business leadership and career development. Some 10,000 to 14,000 listeners across the greater Chicago area tune in each week as Watts and Riendeau tackle topics such as leadership development, diversity recruiting, team-building and asking for a promotion.

"We want to change the way people do business with the use of behavioral science," says Riendeau, who owns the East Wing Search Group, a Chicago-based executive recruiting firm.

Before joining the airwaves, Watts studied counseling psychology and was working as a school psychologist when he gave a speech to a Chamber of Commerce on stress management. The head of a commercial real estate firm approached him after the talk and offered him a job using personality assessments in organizational development. Watts jumped to industrial/organizational psychology and is now the managing partner in the executive talent management firm AST Management.

"The Business Doctor" was born when Watts was promoting his books on leadership development on radio shows and producers told him he had a good radio voice. A mutual acquaintance-also a psychologist-introduced Watts to Riendeau, who had been in the executive recruiting business before deciding to pursue a doctorate in psychology to gain more credibility and learn skills that would help him better assess talent. When Watts learned that Riendeau had done public radio work and television interviews, he invited him to co-host "The Business Doctor."

Young professionals as well as educated, 40- to 60- year-olds make up much of the show's listenership. Listeners over age 40 particularly enjoy tips on reinventing their careers and staying competitive in a world of ever-changing technology, says Riendeau.

The show also gives both men a chance to use their psychological training in an untraditional way.

"My ability to interview is strong because of my background and counseling skills, and I relate comfortably with my guests and get them to truly open up," says Watts.

In the two years since the hour long program went live, Watts and Riendeau have hosted call-in and in-booth guests such as leadership guru Warren Bennis, Proctor & Gamble CEO John Pepper and Playboy Enterprises Chairman and CEO Christie Heffner, as well as faculty and authors from Ivy League business schools. In between interviews, Watts and Riendeau discuss articles in business journals and newspapers or open the phone lines and ask callers to share stories from the trenches.

"Once we were talking about bullies in the workplace and we said we'd take a few calls if anyone out there worked for a bully," says Riendeau. "The lines lit up and everyone wanted to vent their spleen."

A common theme on the program is the lack of leaders among today's young workers, who, says Watts, embrace multiple jobs-and even multiple careers-throughout their lives. As a result, companies hesitate to invest time and money on mentoring and coaching them, fearing they may jump ship, he notes.

"As a consequence, our leadership development is just not there," says Watts, who envisions "The Business Doctor" as one way for the workers of tomorrow to learn the skills they'll need to lead.

His dream interview?

"Nelson Mandela, because his evolvement as a human being and his emotional intelligence are great lessons for leadership, and Bill Clinton, who has an understanding of how to get things done globally," says Watts.

Further Reading

To listen to "The Business Doctor," tune in online at www.wcptam.com Sunday mornings at 11 Central Time.