Skip to main content

Leadership: the greatest performing art of all?

Writing in the absence of Jack and Suzy Welch, The Essential Bennis author Warren Bennis highlights an actor and a President in his BusinessWeek (September 21, 2009) article. The actor is Orson Welles and the President is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The President's unique leadership style inspired the term "imperial presidency" and what he shared with the actor, Warren says, was actorly attributes.

I do not know if you'd agree with Warren that leadership is a great performing art, but have a look at a related topic called Leadership Presence. In Columbia Business School's Essentials of Management program (spring 2008), we had an exciting day on Leadership Presence. Our coach, Greta Cowan (from The Ariel Group), covered the following competencies:

  • Present: Being completely in the moment and flexible enough to handle the unexpected
  • Reaching out: Building relationships through empathy, etc
  • Expressive: Conveying feelings and emotions
  • Self-knowing: Accepting himself/herself, being authentic, and reflecting personal values in decisions/actions 
Greta's own "performance" was worth watching -- and learning from.

What are your views on leadership and "acting"?


  1. Interesting...

    I have experienced something similar meeting with customers. If you are truly present (hearing everything said and unsaid), reaching out to them(by being more interested in them than in yourself), expressive (showing you care about things), and self-knowing (not bluffing, being able to admit your limitations, giving them the bad news), then indeed you are showing your leadership.

    As for how it is similar to a performance, I allude to this connection in my recent blog post:


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Business model intimacy

The Grameen Bank success story continues to be researched and written about. Other companies have tried to repeat the Bank's model. Is there a fundamental difference between the original innovation and the followers? In MIT Sloan Management Review (Summer 2009), Erik Simanis and Stuart Hart compare the original model with that of India-based Hindustan Unilever's model and point out a crucial difference.

Grameen Bank was a result of personal bond and shared vision between Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and Bangladeshi farmers/villagers. Yunus and the villagers spent quality time together as a community before the innovator launched the bank. While Grameen Bank became a profitable and scalable village bank, the authors say that Hindustan Unilever's project is "unlikely to grow into anything more than a new distribution channel." While Grameen Bank generated a "groundswell" of demand," Hindustan Unilver's entrepreneur turnov…

clinton/obama/media cabal to be exposed starting june14

A lot of people have surrendered themselves to be constantly duped by leftist media outlets.

The duped people now believe things that are entirely different from facts – as regards the obama/clinton/media cabal.

For the duped leftists, the coming Inspector General (IG) reports and follow-up actions (assuming they're both carried out unobstructed) will be a shock.

The shock will be so powerful, the duped leftists may react in insane and dangerous ways. (Well, they've already been behaving in such ways, but they've been doing so for a different set of reasons and largely unaware of facts.)

Broadly, the IG reports are going to be about treasonous/ unconstitutional/ illegal activities, power abuses, and obstructions for the purpose of:

1. Exonerating a criminal Hillary

2. Covering up the crimes of the Clinton folks

3. Attempts to block a presidential candidate

4. Attempts at a coup against a constitutionally elected president

5. Obstruction of presidential duties

6. Public deception…

Elon's April 1 tweets: part of an emerging leadership style?

First his tweets and then my comments ...

Tesla Goes Bankrupt
Palo Alto, California, April 1, 2018 -- Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can't believe it. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2018
There are many chapters of bankruptcy and, as critics so rightly pointed out, Tesla has them *all*, including Chapter 14 and a half (the worst one). — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2018
Elon was found passed out against a Tesla Model 3, surrounded by "Teslaquilla" bottles, the tracks of dried tears still visible on his cheeks.

This is not a forward-looking statement, because, obviously, what's the point?

Happy New Month! — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2018
Almost all commenters appear to love Elon's April 1 tweets. But one person commented "CEOs of public companies shouldn't be putting out tw…