A good friend was leading a workshop for leaders, and it caused me to pause. She enjoyed drama and theater, including music and dancing which we had discussed often… as hobbies. She was now offering training for managers on Improv, what they shortened “improvisation” to in Performance competitions. Perhaps from my days in Debate, where the Theater people were… “different” – a feeling they had about us also – I thought it was little off. What would Improv have to do with leadership? And then… I was called in to engage a team with…. no preparation…
Leadership topic - Perform (Executive Presence)
What helps you Perform and authentically lead teams, particularly when the choices are not easy or straightforward?
There are many times that everyone will turn to you as a leader and look for you to…. what? How can you prepare now before that look inevitably comes your way? Some musings on how the ultimate Entertainer navigated a few questions in his own career, and what we might learn from them for us.
Born to Vaudeville dancers in Harlem in 1925, there was really no career choice available to Sammy Davis, Jr., when you engage your first audience at 3, and the performance brings the house down. On the road for most of his life, he later admitted he never learned to read… and yet, his command of a room, a song, and a dance step are great examples of what we now call “executive presence” workshops. His catalog is the perfect soundtrack to a discussion of Perform.
What manages Performance?
There is an entire industry now built up around what is called “Vulnerability”. Brought to the forefront by researcher Brene Brown, now a legend, the concept is that deep inside all of us are fears that need to be managed. Left unchecked, they can get in the way of our best Performance, and often are topics that I work with leaders to understand and reframe – the coaching word for turning Lemons into Lemonade. The paradox often is that by not showing vulnerability in your early career, you appear to have it all figured out… which, to those of us later in our career, we can remember those days… and how Performance changes….
Your Partners in Performing
The First 90 Days is one of my favorite topics to work with new leaders on. That time is when they are at their freshest to see things that can really help business change and grow… and also are at the highest risk of stepping into things they are just starting to understand. As it is early in the year, I have a number that are on day 20-30 of that transition, and are feeling the compelling push to Perform – do SOMETHING… and another of my least favorite management “truisms” that is patently false – “Quick Wins”. They are rarely either, and most often damage your reputation with at least one partner.
observing while Performing
Working under pressure has always been my “go-to”. Since I am now a coach, people think I have...
wonder who is Performing?
In my world, we talk a lot about Authenticity. Ironic as we also talk about Performing… and Presence… and lots of other catchphrases that are offered up as insights to help people become “better”. It is a wonder that we make any progress, with over 15,000 books published – each year, and the countless “self-help” blogs, video blogs, and writers like me giving you their pearls of wisdom to make it sound simple. I can offer this insight – it is not easy… but the trick I have found is don’t lose the ability to wonder what it is that makes you Perform at your best. There is always someone to help you in ways you can’t even imagine…
executing the Performance
So who are you… really? A jarring way to start a Saturday conversation, but one that could be well-timed. Freed from your 9-5 commitments, what do you pick up and execute … first? As I have mentioned repeatedly, doing is what I do… Performing and acting. Resting happens only in the process of actually executing something to be completely honest. A weekend is best ended when there are activities that have been completed, things built, people entertained… you get the idea. Performing and execution go hand in hand in my world…
Performing and renewing
After that jarring start yesterday, let’s take a more restful approach for today’s conversation. It is difficult to tell what is real and what is Performing, particularly as you consider another’s or your own stance on faith. Paradoxes of what is said versus what is done can be a conversation that goes in directions that are not renewing for anyone. For me, it has helped to realize it is more a dance, and sometimes the steps are not clear or easy, and balance is hard to hold…