Crucial for the performer on the business stage is to grasp the reality that every workplace is a stage and that work itself is theatre. The leader is always in the spotlight of attention and can benefit greatly from an understanding of, and ability to use, appropriate performance skills to demonstrate authenticity and ensure that nothing gets in the way of honouring his or her intention.
Great leaders and great performers engage the emotions. Leadership, as Kousez and Posner describe, ‘is an encounter’. It goes beyond the rational. It involves being in relationship with others. It requires passion and passion is important. As the poet Czeslaw Milosz reminds us, “the passionless cannot change history.”
For leaders this is a call to action. To rely predominately on the written word and bland, featureless oral communication is a disappointing choice for a leader to make. Our advice to leaders is to become a performing artist.
Leaders can learn to use their voice and speech with the discipline, precision and passion of a skilful performing artist. As a former White House speechwriter said: “Ronald Reagan’s delivery could lift a bad speech by the scruff of the neck, shake it and make it sing.” This is one of a leader’s most important tasks; perhaps the most important one. As Gilbert Amelio says: “If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.”
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