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Leadership From the Laugh Track

Who doesn’t love Jimmy Fallon? The Saturday Night Live comedian recently transferred his talents to the Tonight Show, and while he’s known for his laugh-inducing antics, Fallon’s smooth operation of his new gig makes him a leading legend—or at least a guy to take a few cues from! The Tonight Show has been a staple of American television since 1954, and iconic chin wager, Jay Leno, had been captain of the ship for about 17 years. With Leno’s retirement, many were unconvinced that the much younger Fallon could fill his considerable shoes. Fast forward just a couple of months, and Fallon’s hijinks have garnered the highest May sweeps ratings in five years! So, how can Fallon’s small screen victory get better results for you?

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Act Natural: Fallon didn’t reinvent himself just for the Tonight Show, instead, he kept the same style and conversational mojo he’d honed on his other gigs. Instead ofmodifying his act to conform to 60 years of Tonight Show history, Fallon was quintessentially himself and didn’t change his tactics just to fit—remember, they hired Jimmy Fallon, not Jimmy Fallon as Jay Leno. When you make a change, it’s easy to think that the obvious move is to highlight the newness, excitement, and amazing nature of your presence. But, the best things to do is be you!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: While he is certainly taking the Tonight Show in a new direction, Fallon is still making sure to keep well-loved traditions alive. Leno’s sidekick, band, and desk, are all the same, but with his touch, they certainly aren’t same and old. Making what is old hat seem new is a challenge on and off screen, but the key is to keep those elements that really matter to you and your clients. This is essential to any transition and it doesn’t take a celebrity to add a level of flair to what’s tried and true. Build off a great legacy by honoring and enhancing what has proven itself.

Share the Spotlight: In the midst of welcoming a new host, the Tonight Show always has a bevy of guests and personalities that make each evening special. Instead of just sitting behind the desk and asking questions, Fallon makes sure that each new face is actively involved in the show. For the comedian, this comes out as a re-enactment of Footloose with Kevin Bacon, or a hip-hop dance history with Will Smith. In your own office, it can be as simple as including more people in planning meetings, or outings. Maybe it’s a bit more dramatic and includes having more hands on deck in the creation of a new product. No matter what it looks like, turn a solo act into a team event to see greater success all around.

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