Play To Win

Winning is important. Jack Welch is a hero of mine. The iconic leader of GE is a legend in leadership / management circles. His practical advice on the use of candor, motivating the top 20% of your workforce, and removing the person who “poisons the well” have all become rules that I live and lead by. Welch has another rule… Play to win.

You may be saying: 

“You’re a ministry. How can you say it’s all about winning?”

“Aren’t we all in this thing together?”

“I can’t view that fellow Christian radio station across town as competition. That would be…un-Christian.”

Yes, as a ministry we need to have a strategy that will lead us to win. We must work with a goal of winning. Let me ask you a question: What’s the opposite of winning? Surviving? Losing? Better yet, how much impact will your ministry have if it loses? How much impact will it have if it just survives?

That Christian radio station across town is your competitor. We share common values, strategies, tactics, and goals – but they are your competitors. You both may share a goal of seeing the Kingdom grow and believers encouraged – but you are both fighting for the same ears and the same dollars. For the record, you’re already competing against the country station, the pop station, the rock station and so on. You’re competing for ears and hearts.

In his book “Winning,” Welch writes, “Winning in business is great because when companies win, people thrive and grow. There are more jobs and more opportunities everywhere and for everyone. People feel upbeat about the future; they have the resources to send their kids to college, get better health care, buy homes, and secure a comfortable retirement. And winning affords them the opportunity to give back to society in hugely important ways beyond just paying taxes – they can donate time and money to charities and mentor in inner-city schools, to name just two. Winning lifts everyone it touches – it just makes the world a better place.”

I’m braced for it. Someone will call or email and say, “The Bible doesn’t say we should work to win. It says we should work as ‘unto the Lord.’” My response to that concern? Tell me what working “unto the Lord” looks like. Is it just surviving? Is it losing? Or is it giving everything you have and winning? Consider the two options: Where would you rather serve? At a ministry that is winning or one that is losing?

You already believe in winning. Most of you have non-competes in the employee agreements for on-air talent and fundraisers. You also have non-competes for consultants that your station uses. (If you don’t use non-competes, I highly recommend you begin using them.) Why the non-competes? To protect the ministry. Why protect the ministry? To win.

At Positive Alternative Radio, we’re playing to win. Does that mean we’re heartless? Nope. Does it mean we will be unkind and rude? Not at all. We will show grace and be kind…while playing hardball. We believe winning opens doors, improves morale, unlocks passion, allows teams to innovate and creates opportunities for enormous gospel impact. We’re not here to survive. We’re in it to win it.

Dear Christian Radio,

  • We need to redeem an attitude of winning. Some run races to compete, but we must be willing to share a passion for winning and lead our teams to capture as much of the market as possible.
  • We must be willing to be wise in winning. Market your stations. Win ears. Shake hands. Create relationships with listeners, donors and other ministries. Hire the best storytellers. Create a culture of passion, innovation and a relentless pursuit of your mission and vision.
  • We must work as unto the Lord. He deserves our best. He deserves an attitude of winning. Are you working as unto the Lord or trying just to survive?


Brian Sanders
Executive Vice-President
Positive Alternative Radio

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