Leaders are often expected to assume many roles. They have to be peacekeepers, excellent managers, and well-spoken. But these skills don’t always come naturally to everyone. An acting skills course, for example, could be just what a leader needs, to go from good to great.
Putting yourself in the right kind of spotlight
Think back to your college or school days. Did you relish the thought of being the person to speak in front of others? Did you quake in your boots? Even if you are a seasoned pro, do you think you could benefit from learning a little in an acting, voice, or presentation skills course?
Everyone has room for improvement. Even if you are very confident in your skills, your audience is gradually shifting to a younger, more diverse, more expectant crowd. Gone are the old paradigms of the past, and you have to keep up, or you’ll slowly find yourself as one of those forgotten relics.
Being a leader involves so much more than pushing spreadsheets and meeting deadlines. You have to interact and collaborate with people—sometimes from all over the world. A first impression usually sticks with us, and you want to always put your best foot forward, while at the same time, being kind and listening to those you meet.
The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.
One of the central brain regions associated with fear learning is the amygdala. Our brains are conditioned for the ‘fight or flight’ response, but the same threats that faced us thousands of years ago no longer apply (unless you wrangle alligators for a living). We have tilted a little too far in this direction, seeing threats when there really is nothing to be scared of.
Neuroscience has shown us that a gradual extinction of a conditioned fear response is possible. In other words, if standing in front of people makes you want to vomit, you can learn to overcome this. Neurons in the amygdala exhibit plasticity; that is, they can relearn with new stimuli. Fear extinction can be regulated between various parts of the amygdala, although the exact mechanisms are not yet understood
But what if I’m already the best speaker ever (and here’s my Tony and Oscar)?
While it is true that some people have an innate ability to please a crowd, most of us do need practice. And, even if your style has been working, are you up to date on incorporating your brain and body and emotions into your leadership methods?
Collaboration is the fuel for coordination and communication across ever-changing boundaries. Virtual teams, shifting supply chains, and the ability to collaborate in the moment are the new reality of the Imagination Age. Most of us haven’t learned the art of collaboration in our day-to-day work, and make no mistake, collaboration in its most effective form IS an art form.
The can start you on the path to a new way of thinking about leadership. An acting class can give you the confidence to boost your communication skills and ensure that you are ready to face the challenges of this modern Age.
Krabbe, S., Gründemann, J., Lüthi, A. 2017. Amygdala inhibitory circuits regulate associative fear conditioning. Biol Psychiatry, 10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.10.006.