Posts Tagged 'theatre'


I’m back at my Meisner acting class. Barbara likes to say:

an actor without an opinion is like an athlete without a game plan!

It’s a powerful idea. Actors who have strong opinions have presence. You can’t take your eyes off them! Their scenes are compelling.

Is it a powerful idea in business? An opinion could be a vision, mission, strategy or a value. But opinions sound like they are more personal, less corporate. Personal opinions have a stronger influence on behaviour – in acting, in business and in life.

Should leaders have stronger personal opinions?  Is this what makes them so effective? I often wonder if we are developing  a cohort of senior managers in leadership competency, only to find they don’t have a personal opinion on what leadership means to them. Their leadership understanding and knowledge doesn’t translate into compelling action. I think leadership should start with a strong personal opinion on life.

Perhaps also, it is easier to trust people with strong opinions?  You may not agree with their opinion.  But strong opinions make people more purposeful, have a stronger presence and more predictable in their behaviour.

Strong opinions may be powerful, but they may also be dangerous. It obviously depends on what the opinion is. But more dangerously, opinions start to define how you see and experience the world in ways that reinforce themselves. Always dangerous in a rapidly changing world.

Perhaps we can all have strong opinions that are loosely held? Is that possible?


Enrolling others

The first parts in my leadership framework are – knowing self and creating relevance. Both allow us to enrol others – the third part.

Woody Allen said “80% of success is showing up”. To succeed as leaders we need to have enough people show up. But not just in the sense of physically showing up. The work of change needs energy, so people need to show up completely. To bring all of themselves to the task at hand.

Goffey and Jones in their “Why would anyone want to be lead by You” book, talk about communicating with care. And, it takes care to totally engage and enrol others. There are some useful tools that help:

  • Sensing the context of the situation so that the meaning that emerges from your communication, is the meaning you intend.
  • Give consideration to the objective of your communication.
  • Developing appropriate messages.
  • Using story telling to subtly influence others.
  • Using some theatre to make the communication more impactful.

It’s doesn’t matter how insightful our sense of self, or our ability to create relevance. If we can’t enrol others, we are not leading.

a NZ leader

Over the last 9 years I’ve worked with many NZ organisations on communication and leadership. I’ll often ask “who do you think of as a great leader?” There has been only one organisation where the people answer with their own Chief Executive’s name! It is always the first name replied. That organisation is New Zealand Post and it’s CE John Allen. In fact people replied with his name before he became CE.

He’s about to leave NZ Post and become the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade. A very interesting career move, that highlights a significant change to a new breed of public sector leaders.

There’s a great Radio NZ interview with John at:

I like what he’s saying about leadership. That it’s learnt, not taught. That it’s co-created, not individual. That it’s thoughtful, not about easy answers. Also the importance of advocacy, debate & diversity, and theatre.

Hope you get a chance to listen.

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February 2019
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