A strange title for a blog post, but it is the festive season after all! If anyone had asked me three months ago would I like to play the horse in our local Amateur panto, I would have politely declined, as on the surface it did not seem like an attractive proposal. However, always up for a challenge I accepted and on reflection, I am so grateful as I have learnt so many lessons about Leadership, teamwork, and just plain fun from the experience of being part of a great cast and production.

Leadership Lessons

Lesson 1- Acting is more than just having lines to learn.

When you are acting, whether in a lead part or a non-speaking role you are using your listening and observational skills to react to and move with the other players. You are also responding to the audience reactions- just like in the workplace when you are dynamically responding to customers and team members.

Lesson 2- Putting yourself in another character’s role helps develop empathy and other soft skills.

Looking at situations from another perspective.and imagining how the character would respond develops creativity, empathy and compassion skills. It also develops your communication skills.

Lesson 3- Working in a costume where neither actor can see makes you wholly reliant on others.

When you finally get into costume after weeks rehearsing off-stage, you quickly develop a sense of reliance on your partner and the other cast members to help you get on and off stage as you cannot see anything but the floor beneath you. Putting your trust in others and working as a team are great skills to have in the workplace.

Lesson 4- Learning to take constructive criticism (or ‘Notes’) from the Director each night helped us reflect on our performance.

The skill of a great Director is to get the best from each team member by highlighting good performances and offering suggestions on how to make them even better. Constructive criticism is a difficult skill to master, and great leaders and managers must learn to give and take this with their team if a positive working culture is to be developed.

Achievement, Gratitude and Equality

The sense of achievement that the cast of 30 kids and adults of varying ages and (dis)abilities got at entertaining over 300 people for the three performances we did was amazing, and we have all spent the past week missing each other terribly and hearing so many positive messages from those who came along to see the shows.

What made it so special for me was the sense of community, inclusivity, friendship, and general wellbeing felt by everyone as we supported each other through the many weeks rehearsals and performances. Everyone was treated with respect, young worked with old, and we all expressed gratitude for individual contributions, especially from the supporting cast of costumers, props makers, prompters and the lighting, sound, music and choreograhy helpers. No-one was treated any differently whether they had one line or the ‘star’ roles.

Lots of lessons for the workplace there I think, maybe the office Panto should be done as an annual team-building event?