What Does Tom Cruise and Your Show Have in Common?

 In Blog

Imagine that you are Tom Cruise. You are adored and praised everywhere you go.  People want photos with you and autographs from you.

After a time, you realize that you are something special. You are talented, handsome, likable and smart. Hey, would they have given you these awards and these big paychecks if you were not the hottest star on the planet?

You feel powerful. You are confident that you can do anything you want and people will love it.

Then you release The Mummy in theaters.

The film cost an estimated $190 million to make and currently has a 15% (out of 100) Rotten Tomatoes score. Insiders say that Cruise’s overconfidence and excessive meddling may be the root of the failure. Sequels plans are as dead as the mummy herself.

Success can blind you. It happens to companies in the same way. In business school, my favorite professor Leo McMullen said, “The worst thing that happens to a company is they become successful.” Look at Pan American Airlines, Sears and Kodak.

The more successful you become as an on-air personality, the more difficult it is to grow and evolve. When you have “made it,” experiencing that love and appreciation from fans can be so powerful that it throws off your compass. It can make you overconfident and unwilling to change things, even if the ratings say something different than the listeners who shout “love your show” at you every day.

When we begin coaching a successful show that is struggling to maintain ratings, we inform management that improvement often takes longer than for a show that has never been number one.

The key is to ask questions of your team, your management, and of yourself.Here’s the exercise that we use for peak and post-peak shows.

If you would like to read about how success can lead to downfall, check out The Line Between Confidence and Hubris by Tim Laseter in Strategy and Leadership magazine.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


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