I couldn’t help but notice all of the farewell articles, tweets and tributes to David Letterman as he wrapped up his career as a late night television host. Even his rival, Jimmy Fallon, got choked up when he was dishing his goodbye sentiments to Letterman. I started to think about these personalities and how it takes a certain amount of perseverance to star in a roll like theirs. Yes, these people make their living off of taking any situation and making us smile about it, but the way they handle real, live incidents takes a lot of rational and responsibility.
I’m not supporting everything these live television hosts have ever said or done, but as a thought leader and public speaker myself, I need to give credit when credit is due. Here are a few leadership tips I picked up on just by watching some late night laughs:
- Be honest. Do you think these comedians would be where they are if they just nodded in agreement to every person they’ve live interviewed? They are never afraid to be themselves or speak their mind, and they never played down their intellect for a lack-luster interviewee. Yet, they always had a way of keeping the conversation positive and laughable.
- Include others. They have creative ways of getting the audience involved and keeping them engaged through out the show; they also have show “sidekicks” that they ask for advice and opinions on certain things. Let’s not forget when they actually go out on the streets to get public opinions for their segment. In short terms: they’re really good at making themselves part of the group (not just star of the show), and they know how to create a sense of community.
- Criticize yourself (sometimes). When you’re doing a live show, you need to know how to make your guests comfortable. Often times, it means making yourself a laughing stalk for a moment. I’m not saying that great leaders need to know how to make people laugh at them, but they should be ready to share their insecurities and stories in order to put their team at ease. Your team will gain a sense of confidence when they hear that you make blunders and know how to work through them.
- Be polite. Some situations just call for a moment of sincerity; TV hosts like Letterman and Fallon know how to discuss sensitive situations without batting an eye.
Great leadership can sprout for anywhere. Who are some of your favorite unexpected leaders?