Lessons Learned from … Late Night TV?

Linda Dulye's picture

Retro TV set.jpgAt last, the long national nightmare of the Late Night TV Wars is behind us. Is there anything that leaders can take away from NBC’s botched, public handling of its 11:35 p.m. time slot?

  • Patch the leaks. The late-night drama was played out in the media thanks to leaks from all three camps: Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno and NBC. If you’re dealing with a major organizational change, then ensure that fellow leaders maintain a proper level of confidentiality as decisions are made. Even the most benign comment made during uncertain times can catch fire and spread across the business. 
  • Share what you can. The staff members supporting both O’Brien and Leno were left twisting in the wind as their respective star worked toward a resolution. In periods of uncertainty it’s better to tell your team what you know and what you don’t know, as soon as possible. They might not like what you tell them but at least it will be coming from you and not from the grapevine.
  • Take the high road. O’Brien took a few moments during his final Tonight Show to talk to the audience about his time as host of the venerable program. He definitely took shots at his employer throughout the weeks of negotiations but in the end he was gracious and grateful to NBC for the 20 years he worked at the network. He proved that it always pays to take the high road.


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