Truth in Performance - Womens, Management, Work Conference

Truth in Performance

Seeing things from a different perspective is essential to innovation

Jessica Symes

My leadership perspective is dually based on the principals of the performing arts, which I have come to understand through my background as a theatre director and my deep respect and understanding of personality and preference. Below are some of the ways in which the performing arts can help individuals and organizations champion diversity and develop authentic leadership.

The performing arts have been with us for thousands of years, crossing all boundaries and existing in all cultures, religions, languages and countries. They not only celebrate diversity but require it, to hit the elusive "sweet spot" in the creative process: truth in performance.

It is clear we are all different. Everyone understands that. But what's important to understand is that we're vastly different for a reason, and that within an organization, as in a creative group these differences should not just be tolerated or accepted but leveraged.

One need only think of the unlikely paring of heavy rock band Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1995 or the vision of Guy Laliberte to create a circus whose every element was the opposite of a traditional circus- Cirque Du Soleil or the casting of Dustin Hoffman instead of Robert Redford in the classic cult film "The Graduate." Not only are these example of convention turned on its head; they have also all resulted in artistic, critical and financial success.

Seeing things from a different perspective is essential to innovation but can only happen when teams are made up of diverse individuals and that diversity should encompass all sorts of facets including but not limited to experience, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability and skills.

What is truth in performance and how can it be applied in a corporate setting?

Actors seek truth in their performance and work for years to achieve it.

In the corporate world this can be compared to the moment when innovation is born or a creative solution arises. The creative world can teach leaders that in order for truth to occur they need to recruit staff from a range of backgrounds, accept diverse points of views, and create the environment in which these points of views and range of experiences can be understood and appreciated.

How can individuals find their own truth?

It's actually simple; it's about honing in on your authentic self and bringing that self to work. It's about understanding your strengths and championing them, not hiding or diluting them. And on the flip side understanding that every personality trait at the extreme has its own strength and weaknesses. For example, if you are someone that lacks an attention to detail, it's perhaps an indicator that you are focused on the big picture; you are a visionary. So rather than hiding your lack of detail you will need to find a positive channel for your visionary talent. As we know this ability is very valuable to leadership, inspiration and motivation.

How can organizations allow diversity to thrive and to facilitate innovation?

The creative arts have always understood at a very deep level that believing wholeheartedly and authentically in the talent of one's team is essential for successful leadership and performance and that the role of the leader is one of facilitating and inspiring the talent. So in the end a great leader in any setting will instinctively know that at that moment when a team member states "I disagree, I see it in a different way" that is not the moment to stand by your own vision, but the moment to lean in and say "that's interesting…tell me more."