Theatre – Its Relevance
Theatre – Its Relevance to High-Performance Leadership & Team Dynamics
Teams are not built. Teams happen.
A theatre group is a powerful example of how teams happen. During the course of producing a play, a random group of people with strong egos, divergent perspectives, different aspirations, varied backgrounds in terms of age, experience, lifestyle, and qualification, transform into a high performance team. In the process, they experience and manifest the following behavioural dynamics, instinctively and unconditionally:
- Bonding & Integration: The ability to relate to each other as ‘actors’ who can take on the intense functional hierarchy and even conflict of the ‘characters’ that they need to play, without experiencing human hierarchy or human conflict. This enables a high level of bonding irrespective of whether they like each other or not.
- Communication: Theatre is a powerful model for effective communication. For the duration of the play the audience is sharing the actor’s experience, laughing and crying with them, even when fully aware that this is only a play, and that after an hour or so, one must step out of the illusion, into the traffic outside.
- Collaboration: Collaborating across roles and functions by investing in the other’s performance as much as in their own. This is done keeping self interest in mind, as even if one actor does not perform well, the play as a whole suffers, and everyone loses in some way or the other.
- Trust & Delegation: All those who are involved in the production have complete trust in the other person’s clarity and commitment to the play and the audience experience. Without this trust in the other person’s clarity and commitment there can be no delegation irrespective of how competent the person may be.
- Time-Management: Absolute and unconditional commitment to the deadline. Once the play has been announced and the first ticket sold, no matter what happens the show has to go on.
- Creativity & Innovation: Finding new competencies and innovating resources. There are very few, if any, theatre groups that have all the resources they need in terms of sets, props, and costumes. Simple everyday products are used creatively so that they transform into what the actors visualise, and the audience experiences what the actors want them to experience.
- Dealing with Risk and Failure: Celebrating success and dealing with failure without ‘blamestorming’. Even the best of plays can flop some times. A new production experiment may not work at all. Even so, even a play that has been working very well, is constantly rehashed and restructured to bring in freshness and alertness.
- Celebrating Star Performance: Identifying and celebrating star performers from across interdependent roles and functions. Often, at the end of a play, as the audience applauds the performers, the actors applaud the unseen person behind the light and sound, or the stage manager who ensured that everything worked with precision to empower the actors to break free. They are considered to be ‘stars’ as much as any actor or director.
- Handling Pressure: Taking on immense pressure without stress. It has been said that an actor on stage goes through the physical symptoms of an accident victim. Even so, no actor says theatre is stressful. Instead, the pressure is considered to be fun, and even relaxation, and you are always looking forward to the next show or the next play.
- Situational Leadership: Taking collective responsibility for leadership and taking charge based on situational clarity, creativity, and competence.
- Alignment: Most importantly, aligning egos, competencies, and energies, across roles and function towards a common goal, a common customer (audience) experience, and a collective success.
- Customer Orientation: Not just the actors who interface with the audience, but every single person who is part of the group, be it the director, the sound and light team, the set designer, the props in charge, the make-up person and costume designer, everyone is clear about the play, and totally committed to the audience experience. Unless the audience gets up and applauds at the end of the show, there is a feeling of inadequacy all around, and the willingness to explore together how to make the play better.
The theatre ‘environment’ is such that this happens every time without any attempt to change or transform people. If this environment does not happen, the play cannot be a happy experience for the group. And if it is not a happy experience for the group, it is unlikely to be an enjoyable experience for the audience. And in all likelihood, the group may not work together again.
The “CorporateTheatre” methodology enables participants to experience and understand the environment that makes teams happen. The workshop also explores the fundamental pillars that enable and sustain the high-performance environment at the workplace. This is possible even during the course of a 1-day workshop, because there is no ‘training’ involved. Instead it is about unlearning the baggage and discovering what is already available with us as individuals and as teams – the instinct of the human animal to hunt, survive, and WIN in packs.