Lessons from Ann Curry

There’s a lot to learn from Ann Curry’s behavior during the recent Today Show dust-up that led to her departure. For weeks a whispering campaign suggested that her performance was responsible for the show’s slide in ratings. Universally liked, Ms. Curry maintained radio silence while NBC let her twist in the wind.

Watching Ms. Curry, you would never know there was anything wrong during her weeks in limbo. She continued to show up, do her job, and kept her personal feelings to herself. She embodied the ultimate in self-management.

Lessons we can all learn from her include:

• Stay true to your values. Ms. Curry has stated repeatedly that loyalty is important to her. She walked the talk even when it didn’t appear that the network was going to reciprocate.
• Be strategic. Ms. Curry kept her focus on her long-term goal. She said repeatedly she wanted to remain with NBC—her behavior made it virtually impossible for them to sever their relationship entirely.
• Maintain your professionalism. By taking the high road Ms. Curry kept the focus on the problem—declining ratings—instead of escalating the drama and becoming a distraction.

While Ms. Curry was ultimately asked to leave the Today Show, the network acknowledged her prowess in hard news reporting by making her an NBC correspondent. Her expertise in managing perceptions allowed her to make the best of a bad situation while engendering public sympathy. While most of us will never have to have our work dramas play out in such a public forum, the example Ms. Curry has set will serve us in good stead when it’s our turn on the hot seat.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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