The morale of your team is your responsibility; 100%.
Be it project or production team, theatrical company, small or large business or corporation. This is the one place where Trickle Down is most acutely accurate: it all comes from the Top.
We are making magic for our audiences; creating experiences that tell stories, engage and compel, draw people in and open their hearts and imaginations, taking them to another place, another world, where physics are irrelevant and magic is possible, where Imagination rules.
(If the above strikes you as crazy, then you are definitely in the wrong business…)
So, unless the mission of your team is strictly Strindberg, a workplace without lightness, levity and laughter will quite simply undermine the vision – and diminish the effectiveness of your product or production – in both subtle and tangible ways.
As Leaders, it is our responsibility to see to it that everyone on our teams enjoys the work s/he is doing; that the late nights and weekends that inevitably become the rule rather than the exception are embraced out of enthusiasm, passion and commitment, not through obligation or fear.
We want Energy; positive and upbeat. We want action; proactive and productive. We want an atmosphere of buoyant, confident exploration and innovative problem solving.
You want an amazing product? Nurture a strong sense of camaraderie and Team. That must come from Leadership. That is Leadership.
It saddens me when I encounter a “Creative” workplace that is quiet and somber; where people are afraid to venture their opinions for fear of reprisal or retribution, or simply being ignored. I see this more than I’d like, and I believe I can see the result in lackluster work from environments such as this.
Yes: this is a business. Show Business.
Note that the first word is “show” – it isn’t “the business of show” – and Show is the most important component. Show comes from passion, creativity, commitment, vision and drive. The better our show, the better our business. The better our Show, the more the Marketing Department has to sell, the better word of mouth, the more repeat business, the more kids will come away with eyes alight…and this latter is at the heart of what we are lucky enough to be doing for a living.
Do we not want our audiences to Love It? Then, we’d better be Loving the Process by which we get there.
Simply put: if laughter is not regularly heard in your workplace, something’s wrong. If people walk around with brows knit and eyes downcast; y’all gots trouble.
How to address this?
Know and acknowledge your people. Let them know that you and they are on the Same Team; and that you are aware that the Captain of the Team does not score all the points.
It is imperative that the leader know the members of the team as more than simply the offices they fill or titles each holds. These people come to the team for a reason, a personal reason, and it is the mandate of the Leader to know from whence the passion of each member arises.
Passion for our work is vital.
A leader who does not know the names of every team member and what brings that person to this job is letting down all stakeholders in a given project, mission or job…and that includes the audience with which you are hoping to fill your seats and queues.
Know your people, your team. Know who they are; what inspires and impassions them.
Meet their eyes as you pass in the hallway and never forsake the opportunity to simply say “hello.” (I don’t really have to tell you this, do I?)
Creative and otherwise, human beings need to know they are seen and heard. If you want the best from your team, they must feel valued, acknowledged and welcome to contribute, even outside an official realm of responsibility.
As Leader, one must take most seriously the responsibility of seeing each person on your team and of being open and creating the opportunity to Hear them. Truly, one never knows where the next good idea, the most creative solution, the best potential for growth and ROI will originate.
Be sure to know everyone on your team. There is brilliance, there, that you very well may not yet know. Brilliance, value and inspiration.
That’s our job. We are lucky to have it. Embrace the opportunity to be inspired by your teams as you seek to inspire them. ‘Tis a rare and wonderful opportunity, and will yield results in the hundredfold.
BTW: The eBook, “IMHO” is a free download from the iTunes and iBooks store…it contains discussions and explanations of the methodologies and applications of same for the creation of compelling experiences applicable to all storytelling approaches. Feel free: it’s free!