As I sat at this year’s Tony Awards®, I admired the bold spirit of entrepreneurship, creativity, and guts that fill one big room on one big night. Every year some win and some inevitably lose, but everyone in that room is worthy of a prize even if only a select few end up leaving with a trophy. I stand in awe of every single one of them.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to sit on the front lines and watch the creation of some of the most memorable productions that have gone on to create a profound impact on communities around the world. That wild, messy, unpredictable journey — which only a select few risk taking — is what makes the theatre business what it is today.
These visionaries create their story, share their vision for that story, and assemble a trusted group of followers to embark on the journey with. And from all of my experience working alongside the best of the best, they bring the following traits with them into everything they do.
But before I tell you, I’m going to make you work for it.
Fill in the blanks.
C _ _ _ A _ _
C _ _ _
C _ _ _ I _ E _ _ E
C _ _ M I _ _ E _ T
Then read on.
SCROLL DOWN (keep going)
SCROLL DOWN (almost there)
SCROLL DOWN (getting closer)
SCROLL DOWN (you’re getting warmer)
SCROLL DOWN (hotter hotter hotter)
These are the 4 Cs that every great visionary brings to the table.
They bring courage. Great leaders will do whatever it takes to drive their vision forward. When most people pack up their tent and leave the headwinds of conflict, great leaders embody the courage to move forward through almost any obstacle that comes in front of them. Admittedly, this courageous spirit is what can sometimes lead to a short-term demise, but great teams will always line up behind brave leaders in the long-run.
They bring care. Great leaders care about the team around them — particularly the respect of the creative souls that put their necks on the line to make a production a reality. In the theatre business, artists truly put themselves out there and are exposed to criticism in ways I don’t believe most people understand. They stand to hear that their figurative baby is an ugly one. Great leaders show care, attention, and respect to the creative process, which ultimately manifests the best work.
They bring confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Great leaders are also fearless leaders who may have tons of fears and doubts on the inside, but they still barrel through with confidence in their team and their vision. The moment people stop believing is the moment any great artistic endeavor is on its last breath. Yes, confidence can cross paths with arrogance or even worse, delusion, but great artistic work needs leadership that reinforces why it’s important we all show up every day as our best selves. Confidence nurtures the craft and not the ego.
They bring commitment. Great leaders in the theatre business go all-in on their passion. They are committed to the success of their visions, and there is no doubting it. They are committed to the production and their team. They give their life to their craft. They are willing to move their families and uproot their lives to adjust to the many unpredictable and moving pieces of putting together a live production. There is no “one foot out the door” or “if this doesn’t work out” attitude — instead, it’s a “leave everything on the field” mindset. Yes, that’s a sports reference to close out the article 😉.
What did I miss? Tell me, tell me.