Don’t ignore the signals of change

The only thing that is certain is change. We all see change transforming our firms, community, and lives. Many of us eagerly embrace the opportunity and adventure of change. But when times are good, and we are enjoying a fruitful season, something inside of us often resists change. We allow our desire to stay in the moment to keep us from seeing the signs of pending change. Steve Buchanan, President of Opry Entertainment Group, warns that this is precisely the time we need to watch for signs of change and prepare to pivot.

He should know. After graduating with an MBA from Vanderbilt in 1985, Steve joined Gaylord as the Grand Ole Opry’s first marketing manager. Over his 30-year career, he has led many successful ventures, including the restoration of the Ryman Auditorium and the creation of the Nashville TV series. As the co-creator and executive producer of Nashville, Buchanan beat the odds, bringing a series full of original music and business intrigue to an international audience. This week, after six successful seasons, the final episode of Nashville will air on Thursday, and he will say goodbye to the series and the Opry Entertainment Group.

Buchanan notes that his success as a leader and preparation for the many career changes was linked to four key lessons:

  • Hire well and surround yourself with a talented team;
  • Listen to your team;
  • Set your strategy, but be willing to pivot; and
  • Don’t ignore signals that it is time to change.

Nashville illustrated each of these lessons. Early in the series, Buchanan could be spotted as an extra in the audience at the Ryman auditorium, surrounded by the amazing team he assembled. Successfully launching with ABC, he listened to his team as the series navigated its first four seasons. When it came time to change networks, Buchanan helped the team pivot to a new partnership with CMT, yielding two more celebrated seasons with many plot shifts. And, when the time became clear, he was ready to end the series.

Tune into CMT on July 26th to watch the final episode and see how the series comes full circle, with the cast together at Buchanan’s beloved Ryman Auditorium.

For more of Steve Buchanan’s career in entertainment, the renovation of the Ryman Auditorium, and the Nashville TV series, watch our interview.


Leadership Notes is a blog and video series on leadership.  Through interviews with leaders from both the private and public sector, Johnson examines key leadership issues like empowerment, team development, and cultural dexterity.  The blog also addresses topics such as learning from failure, the importance of friendship, and the role leaders play in developing organizational culture.

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