CanUX: Creative Leadership

by Luke Wroblewski November 16, 2008

The creative leadership workshop at CanUX 2008 focused lessons from the discipline of theater for leaders.

  • Ecoductions: introduce yourself to a person by describing the environment you come from and the environment you are in now. This surfaces core values about your “being” vs. what you are “doing”
  • Things leaders deal with are either: known (measurable), knowable (can be figured out through established process), complex (patterns are there but have very weak links), chaotic (these situations catapult you into the leadership space).
  • Most of our primary education happens in the known and knowable space yet most leaders need to work in the complex and chaotic space.
  • The arts help us make sense of the world by looking at the process artists use not the outcome.
  • At the top of a leader’s “iceberg” is the “doing” –their current work, role, etc. Below the surface is the “being” –their character and human values. Creative leadership tries to lower the water line to get people more in touch with aspects of their being.
  • Present: get rid of the noise to engage in a meaningful way
  • Reaching out: be in other people’s roles through empathy
  • Expression: our cultures tend to filter raw expression; focus on mind & body connections and congruence
  • Self-knowing: openness and hunger for feedback. Theatre lives for it, the corporation avoids it
  • What is the overlap between theatre & leadership?
  • Split thinking: meta-cognition or thinking about thinking allows us to move between personas
  • Inner critic: helps us look good by tending to our ego. Actors spend a lot of time trying to relax the inner critic.
  • Intention mind/body: real drama is about what is under the script. Its larger and more complex than what is being said.
  • Out of the box and into the circle: pay attention to the ordinary. Get grounded first so you can make the ordinary extraordinary.
  • Performer’s paradox: when on stage its both the most important and least significant moment in time
  • Rehearsal & the art of practice: leaders need to study the art of practicing. If you don’t do it in rehearsal, you won’t do it on stage.