Building Leadership through the Principles of Theater

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David Edelman explains how the foundations of Theater provide powerful tools for leaders to connect, motivate, and deliver during times of constant dramatic change. 

When a theater is empty, the tradition is to keep a lone bulb lit on the stage — a ghost light — really for safety, but superstitiously to keep away the bad spirits lurking in the building. Sadly, most theaters right now are lit merely by their ghost bulb, but in the absence of action on stage, I prefer to think of those bulbs as beacons to the rest of us about all that Theater provides, even when performances are temporarily suspended. 

We are in a time when the “audiences,” or customers and stakeholders, of businesses are going through constant, dramatic change, and teamwork needs to dynamically adjust, every single day, to the new realities we face. In such a climate, the foundations of Theater provide powerful tools for leaders needing to connect, motivate, and deliver under the spotlight as never before.

In the past, I have talked about the importance of thinking about great business leaders embracing a view more akin to a jazz combo leader than a classical music conductor, inspired by a seminal article by John Clarkeson, the late former CEO of the Boston Consulting Group. Set the structure, assemble great talent, keep the core rhythm going, listen constantly to each other, but let each other innovate in new directions, which if successful, the team will sense and follow. This view is a clear contrast to formally planned, rigorous planning, and leadership through the force of hierarchy.

 

Key points include:

  • Igniting passion
  • Investigating the context
  • Invite a relationship through a fitting demand

 

Read the full article, Guided by the “Ghost” Light: Tapping into Theater’s Lessons during its Absence, on LinkedIn.