I still remember the first time it happened.
The first time I went home on a Friday night thinking, “We don’t have a show.”
You see, for roughly 15 years, Saturday was show day for me and my team. Every Saturday, we’d fill the studio with 175 audience members and tape an all-new show that would be broadcast, just an hour or so later, to about a million people in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. And it didn’t matter if we were ready or not.
I was, literally, producing under pressure.
Saturday morning was when we would write all the last minute, topical material, like the opening monologue. Friday, though, was when we put together all the other pieces – many of them pre-taped – that we’d been working on throughout the week. And I still remember that first week when, in the editing room, I realized that our big opening piece – the one I was hoping would carry the show (since some of the later material wasn’t our strongest) – just wasn’t cutting it.
And so I went home, quite late, thinking, “We don’t have a show.” It was panic time.
Over the next 15 years, there would be several Fridays each season when I’d go home thinking “We don’t have a show.” But there was no (or very little) panic.
Why? Why, in the same situation, was my reaction so different? What got me through the challenge those later times?
The same thing that got me through it the first time.
I had, through a stroke of luck and a little bit of skill, surrounded myself with a powerhouse team that I could bank on to come up with the goods when it was crunch time. This team included future Oscar nominees, sitcom stars, and household names.
The reason for my early panic was that I hadn’t yet realized that I could trust these brilliant writers and performers to deliver the show. But they -we – always did. Every week. For 15 years.
So here’s the tough question. Do you trust your team? Do you know (and I mean really know) that they’ll be there for you when the going gets tough? When the pressure’s on? When it’s crunch time?
Look, producing under pressure is tough no matter the circumstance. When it’s crunch time, you want your team to be your battle armor, not your weak link. So perhaps it’s time to take a cold, hard look at your team. Can you count on them? Do they have your back? And, most important, do you trust them to deliver when it really counts?
QUESTION: What’s one thing that you, as a leader, have done to set your team up for success when it’s crunch time?