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Leadership Lessons from the (Film) Director's Chair

  • Leadership Lessons from the (Film) Director's ChairThe Find: Business guru Bob Sutton looks to a classic text on film and stage directing to discuss one leadership lesson directors can teach managers: you spend most of your day performing.
  • The Source: Sutton's Work Matters blog.
The Takeaway: Perhaps you haven't spent much time communing with your inner Spielberg or Bergman, but Bob Sutton suggests today that it would benefit managers to study the way directors get the most out of actors for tips on leading a team at work. Know nothing about directing? Sutton helpfully points readers to Notes on Directing: 130 Lessons in Leadership from the Director's Chair, by the late director Frank Hauser.

Among Hauser's tips, which Sutton describes as "fantastically useful" is this one in two parts:

  1. You perform most of the day... you are there to explain things to people and to tell them what to do (even if it means telling them that they can do whatever they want). Speak clearly. Speak briefly. Guard against the director's first great vice - rabbiting on, making the same point again and again, getting laughs from your inimitable (and interminable) anecdotes, wasting time.
  2. Guard against the the second great vice, the idiot fill-in phrases: "You know," "I mean," "Sort of...," "Kind of...," "Er, er um...." These are bad enough in ordinary conversation; coming from someone who may be giving instructions for up to three hours a day, they can be a justification for homicide.
The Question: Are you conscious of how you deliver your explanations and instructions during the course of the day?

(Image of a director by reinn, CC 2.0)

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