Determining the best traits possessed by great leaders is akin to discovering what anyone working in the theater field also needs to succeed. Indeed, great leaders are like great actors, who have the ability to play very different roles. On the other hand, ordinary leaders are like ordinary actors, who are limited in their talent and can only accept the same type of roles time after time.
If one considers leadership first from the perspective of acting, then through the broader lens of the entire theatrical arena, specific desirable traits become evident.
Great Leaders Must Play Diverse Roles
Acting requires talent, a flair for exhibiting the personality of the role being offered. The role might involve comedy or drama. Within either genre, the production might require a leading actor or a co-star, or perhaps even a cameo or supporting role. All of these options — and more — require the same ability and talent from a leader. For example:
- A dramatic role is necessary when leadership must address serious or problematic situations that impact the organisation and its workforce.
- Leaders should also be able to handle comedic roles by using humor to break the ice or more easily relate to employees and colleagues.
- Often, the leader is a star, the main actor who holds the organisational glue together, presenting the “face” of the company to the public and stakeholders.
- A co-star role is also possible, when the leader wishes to step out of the spotlight (or share it) and highlight certain employees who have contributed positively to the company.
- And finally, cameo or supporting roles make up some of the leader’s activities, whereby the leader decides to step in and out of meetings or projects. In these instances, the leader’s role is to be supportive of whatever the main cast (team) is trying to achieve. The leader is visible when needed, and invisible when not.
Added to these roles is the list of credentials and characteristics that would be desirable on the individual’s resume. Naturally, a key indicator of the leader’s ability is actual and relevant experience in running a successful operation. Other valuable assets (although not tangible) include credibility, empathy, commitment, engagement — and the flexibility to assume different roles as the situation demands.
Great Leaders Must Excel in Different Functions, Too
Acting is only one narrow slice of the leader’s role. Viewing the theatrical field from an overall perspective, one should envision the roles of producer, director, stage set and design, make up and costuming, and, finally, casting. All of these functions require specific traits and various skill sets to ensure a successful theater production from financial, operational, and sustainable standpoints.
Leadership is no different. Consider these points:
- Every organisation needs a producer, an individual who accepts responsibility for the entirety of the production. Without a great leader, the teams’ efforts will falter and fall apart.
- As a director, a great leader understands the company’s objectives and ensures that they are carried out, guiding the players and bringing creativity to their efforts. Great leaders know when to watch, when to listen, and when to intervene in the ensuing action.
- Leaders are also involved in stage set and design. Excelling in backdrop, they should transparently explain the rationale behind decisions that affect the organisation, establish the corporate culture, and set the stage for what is to come.
- Make up and costuming are also part of the leader’s role in developing and implementing the company’s brand. Successfully selling a unique brand to employees, stakeholders, and the public requires innovation and a search for the best presentation of what the company represents.
- Casting, in some respects, is the most significant role. Being able to recognise what talent is needed, then to find and hire the best talent to fit the job requirements, forms the foundation of a viable organisation. Having the right talent in the right place at the right time allows individual departmental units to interact and operate at optimal levels.
The Awards Show
Great leaders offer their organisations a great package of skills and talent. Their ability to transform themselves and adapt to the needs of the company by playing diverse roles is a key step in the right direction toward success.
But achieving a measure of success goes beyond the company’s fiscal survival and simply reaching specific goals. A great leader’s actions ensure that the company, the leaders, and the employee base are eligible to receive kudos and public acclaim. Whatever the award represents — acting, directing, casting, stage design, or make up — a great leader can proudly stand on stage as a potential recipient, gracefully thanking the cast and crew.