The Play’s the Thing: Reflections on Leadership from the Theater

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Sage Publications


Although the study of leadership is ubiquitous, much can be learned by directly observing how people actually behave as leaders. In this study, the performance of leadership was observed in the context of putting a play together for a live theater. Observing the director—as leader—bring together a talented group of strangers to work creatively for a finite period provided keen insights into how leadership manifests itself. Seven lessons about what leaders do, irrespective of organizational setting, are offered: establish a vision, remember that it is not just the leader's vision, enable people to find their voice, empower through coaching, foster experimentation and learning from experience, facilitate mutual respect, and provide feedback and encourage the heart.