Performing the Role of “Leader”

Leadership is a Performing Art

Leadership is a performing art. What this means is that we are either given roles to play in life, or we forge a role for ourselves. In either case, our lives are a function of how well we perform those roles – not how elevated that role is, but how well it is performed. So, to develop the capacity to be a leader, you have to look at everything that people do or don’t do in terms of performance.

The leader intends to be the author of some aspect of the future – to interfere with the unfolding of history, of the story that would have been if that leader had not intervened. Leaders are measured by their performance. If they intend to be successful, they have to measure others by their performance as well.

It is how well an organization performs that counts. It is thus how well the people who comprise the organization perform their roles that counts. A healthy organization is one whose members have assumed full responsibility for shepherding their own lives in the context of the life of the organization. The right measure of any organization is its performance – which depends primarily on the performance of those who comprise it.

Performance is not about play-acting. It is the serious business of becoming fully and increasingly competent in one’s role – individual or organizational. The real qualities of the good life come from becoming increasingly more competent at life, whether at work or elsewhere.

To be a leader, you have to perform well in a leadership role. How your organization performs depends on how the people who comprise it perform. Leaders know that the only measure of performance is performance.

-Lee Thayer