Published October 14, 2019

Episode 060: Ben Sherwood and Paula Faris on the Vision to Win

TOPICS IN THIS PODCAST

Leading OrganizationsVision

During Ben Sherwood’s tenure as president of Disney-ABC Television and ABC News, he succeeded in moving the news division from its perennial second position in the ratings to winning in all categories. The secret: he gave his team faith in their ability to win. In this very personal episode of the GLS Podcast, Paula Faris, one of Sherwood’s former colleagues at Good Morning America Weekend, interviews him about his visionary leadership, his belief in people, his incredible empathy and how he deals with critics.

Show Notes

Get free, instant access to GLS Podcast Episode Show Notes. Leverage episode summaries, key takeaways, reflection questions, resources mentioned, related links and applicable downloads.

 

SUMMARY:

During Ben Sherwood’s tenure as president of Disney-ABC Television and ABC News, he succeeded in moving the news division from its perennial second position in the ratings to winning in all categories. The secret: he gave his team faith in their ability to win. In this very personal episode of the GLS Podcast, Paula Faris, one of Sherwood’s former colleagues at Good Morning America Weekend, interviews him about his visionary leadership, his belief in people, his incredible empathy and how he deals with critics.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) had lost in the ratings to NBC’s The Today Show for 852 consecutive weeks. That ended in April 2012 under Ben Sherwood’s leadership.
  • It took a team of 120 people, five great hosts and two years of hard work.
  • And then, in a difficult parting interview between Matt Lauer and Ann Curry, The Today Show fumbled the ball. All of the preparation done by GMA allowed them to capitalize on that fumble.
  • Quote from Barbara Walters, “Ben Sherwood made us believe we could win.”
  • Positive vision is risky because it is measurable and open to the possibility of failure.
  • My phrase was: “We’re going to win the championship.” I meant, we were going to win awards and have the biggest audience. My job was to galvanize this group to achieve our common purpose.
  • One little win turns into another victory and more confidence. And next thing you know, you are taking on bigger and bigger mountains.
  • I believed deeply in the people on the team and their potential.
  • Sometimes people need a good kick in the pants to live up to their potential. Those are key moments, too.
  • The simplest way of practicing empathy is to ask the question, “If I were in someone else’s shoes, what would I need or want?” The reward is knowing that you helped someone through a tough time.
  • I resolved to be a foul weather friend—someone who would show up in bad times as well as good.
  • When you make mistakes, you have to expect to be criticized.
  • When you are unfairly criticized, take comfort in knowing the truth. What matters is: 1) Did I do the right thing? 2) Did I make the best decision? 3) Did I learn from it if I made a mistake?
  • Do your best work. Don’t pay attention to the bad stuff and don’t pay attention to the good stuff either.
  • The three most important qualities of a leader:
    • Vision
    • Living the standard
    • Holding people accountable

 

AUDIENCE Q&A

  • At ABC, there was a culture of complacency—we didn’t think we were going to win. Part of leadership is seeing things the way they are and refusing to let them stay the way they are forever.
  • When your boss does not believe in you, if you can, you should leave.
  • The best leadership advice I ever got was from Director Mike Nichols. “Ben, the last page of Howard’s End. Only Connect.” Connection is the key to leadership.

 

 

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1. Ben Sherwood articulated his positive vision for ABC News as “We’re going to win the championship.” How would you articulate your positive vision for your team?

2. Sherwood then made his vision measurable in two key metrics: 1) winning awards and 2) have the biggest audience. Identify the two or three key metrics by which your team would know they achieved the vision.

3. In addition to vision, Sherwood exhibited a high level of belief in his team’s potential and their ability to win. Think about each team member and fill out the chart below.

Sherwood exhibited a high level of belief in his team’s potential and their ability to win. Think about each team member and fill out the chart below.

4. Take action to implement your vision to win. What is ONE thing you could do this week to meaningfully express your positive vision and belief to your team?

 

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

2012 GMA Ratings Win over The Today Show

Good Morning America

The Today Show

Robin Roberts

George Stephanopolis

Sam Champion

Josh Elliot

Lara Spencer

Matt Lauer

Ann Curry

Dan Harris

Barbara Walters

20/20 Television Show

Royal Wedding – William & Kate

Buckingham Palace

Alabama Tornados in 2011

Rhodes Scholar

ABC Pulls News Crew Out of Sarajevo

Spy Magazine Article about Ben Sherwood

New York Magazine Page 6 Article about Paula Faris

 

BONUS

Bob Iger

Diane Sawyer

Bill Kurtis

Mike Nichols

The Graduate

Howards End

 

RELATED LINKS:

Ben Sherwood

Disney-ABC Television

Paula Faris

Journeys of Faith Podcast with Paula Faris

The Global Leadership Summit

Show Notes are Exclusively for Podcast Subscribers

Enter your email address to unlock them instantly


We welcome and encourage comments on this site. There may be some instances where comments will need to be edited or removed, such as:

  • Comments deemed to be spam or solely promotional in nature
  • Comments not relevant to the topic
  • Comments containing profane, offensive, or abusive language
  • Anonymous comments

If you have any questions on the commenting policy, please let us know at heretoserve@globalleadership.org

THURSDAY-FRIDAY, AUGUST 6-7, 2020Register for the 2020 Global Leadership Summit

$139*

*Price as low as $139 per attendee for groups of 16 or more, $149 per attendee for of 6-15 and $169 per attendee for individual(s). Not valid for South Barrington’s Main Auditorium and Peak Experiences.

You are located in: US
Let's Connect

“We welcome and encourage comments on this site. There may be some instances where comments will need to be edited or removed, such as:

If you have any questions on the commenting policy, please let us know at heretoserve@globalleadership.org”

Select your location

Select your location