A THEATRE IMMERSION EXPLORING COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION IN LEADERSHIP
In 2010 a global study among organizations concluded that “The effects of rising complexity calls for organization leaders and their teams to lead with bold creativity, connect with customers in imaginative ways and design their operations for speed and flexibility to position their organizations for twenty first century success.” The trend emerging from the same study was “to collaborate more effectively and deepen connections through social business platforms enabled by technology.” Companies that outperform their peers are 30 per cent more likely to identify openness – characterized by collaboration and innovation – as a key influence on their organization
Artists and leaders are not that dissimilar. Both need to have a guiding vision, a potent point of view, the ability to formulate an ideal, navigate chaos and the unknown, and finally creating something new. In Working Beyond Borders, a major IBM study of more than 700 chief human resource officers worldwide, HR executives said that three key workforce gaps need to be addressed:
- Cultivating creative leaders
- Mobilizing for greater speed and flexibility
- Capitalizing on collective intelligence
IN THEATRICAL TERMS, THE FOUR KEY WORKFORCE GAPS CAN BE TRANSLATED AS,
There has been a long tradition of comparing leaders to actors. Leadership itself is considered as a performing art. Organizational life is increasingly becoming theatrical and performative in character, underpinned by a prevalence of theatrical practices that are also used by corporate leaders for creating compelling performances. However, it is very difficult to quantify and define leadership. Prevalent ideas look at leadership more as science. But the role of art in leadership, specifically Theater, hasn’t been properly understood. Theatre has the unique potential to offer unique and engaging insights about aesthetic interaction, leadership performance and leader follower interaction.
The immersion is built around certain specific techniques used by actors and directors in the creation, rehearsal and production of performances. These techniques are a combination of games, improvisation, and role-play. Some of the questions asked in the immersion are:
- How does the leader show up?
- What is ‘executive presence’?
- How does inner awareness play out in performance and interaction with ‘audience’?
The immersion throws together a group of people, working in teams to conceive, devise, design, rehearse and perform a play in 2 days. The exceptional time constraint serves to harness theatre’s unique qualities – collaboration, creativity, communication and improvisation. The aim behind creating this pressure cooker situation is to bring together – in one, single wholistic experience – the various challenges faced by individuals, as people and in their roles as leaders and followers. This challenge serves as a sort of Rehearsal for Reality from which people take away their own individual learnings and apply it to their particular situations.