Acting and Leadership: Compare and Contrast
I was a bit surprised to see Glenn Close’s byline on BusinessWeek.com. But I found her essay, Glenn Close on Warren Bennis, to be a fascinating read. It’s an excerpt from a new collection of and about Bennis’ writing, The Essential Bennis. Like most people, I am mainly aware of her as a highly experienced and accomplished actor, not as a writer. Yet what she has written here is compelling. Close explores the similarities and differences between the role of the leader and the actor. Both must be based on truth, authenticity and connection; she observes, yet the actor plays many roles and is usually much different in real life from the person he or she portrays in the theater or onscreen. A leader must be genuine and worthy of trust 24/7; there can be no split between the person who inspires followers and the private self. An audience must care about the character an actor portrays, similar to the way people should care about what a leader believes in and deems important. “An actor has no other agenda,” Close writes, “but to be truthful and that truth is all about finding a point of nonjudgmental common humanity with the character to be portrayed—a common humanity between an imagined character and a very real actor.” Similarly, she writes that a leader “must be authentic in his integrity—in his understanding of, his connection to, and his empathy with the people he leads.” Bennis wrote a back cover endorsement for my new book, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life. Charles Handy, who wrote the foreword to The Essential Bennis, also wrote a guest essay, The Odyssey Experience, for my book, about the class he and his wife Elizabeth taught at the Drucker School in 2007.