I’ve been thinking a lot about work as a performance. It’s something that Mike and I have been talking about. The word covers such a wide range of meanings from entertainment, to carrying out an action and to how well something works. In this case I am talking about something presented before an audience, potentially, not like a performing seal however but rather like a drama that unfolds before your eyes.
And why not? As a leader, are we not always on view? All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts. Don’t we all have an audience, whether it is in front of us or not? Our customers, suppliers, managers and other stakeholders are all watching and we are expected to be providers, confidents, supporters as well as many other parts.
Work is full of drama. Things go well only to fall apart. It has twists and turns, heroes and villains, danger, irony and pathos. It can even have the occasional romance. It has been known.
Work could even be considered as a performance art, which is described as being traditionally interdisciplinary, scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. Which bit of what we do doesn’t fall into such as description?
So would it make any difference if we considered what we do as if it was a work of art, a play that is being performed, as if on television where the audience is there but often unseen? Would we approach what we do differently?
Should we audition? Rather than rely upon picking the players we know, should we not make sure that they can get into the part? We should feel the role rather than just undertaking its tasks. We should be the person that we want to represent. We should walk the walk and talk the talk.
Should we script our work, write it out and rewrite it until it flows naturally, choose our words carefully to ensure they hold the nuance that we wish to get across? We should pare them away to create a work of beauty, something meaningful and long lasting that resonates with our spectators. Something that is memorable. Something that is profound.
And then should we rehearse it over and over again? Rather than adopting an ‘it will be all right on the night’ approach we should work on it until it’s like an opening night. Everyone should know their part. We should have fun when we stutter over our words or when the props malfunction. It all goes to make the performance better.
The piece should be choreographed with skilful interplay, beautiful dialogue, scenery changes and dramatic pauses. We should create the wow factor. After all, our audience deserves it. Our audience expects it. Our audience should demand it.
Would it make any difference if work was performance art? Let’s find out. Break a leg!