Leadership in the Moment

The only model of leadership I had experienced that shed some light on the issue of leadership was one I actually learned in the media business. When you are making a record, film or video game there certainly needs to be someone who has the central vision for the what is being created. There is also the collective group of artists on the project that are co-creating with that person that need to be taken into account.

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When I trained as a television director with some old industry titans at UCLA, their advice to me was to fire someone on the first day on the set. For no reason, just pick someone. Although this advice was a bit tongue in cheek it had its practical intention. It was my experience working on film sets that the first day everyone looked to see who was in charge. IF it wasn’t the director they would start looking to the producers or worse yet to the actors for direction.

 

Later this “management” style got a name. “Leadership in the moment.” There is a lot of research that backs up this model. It reasons that at any moment, a single person has to be on point and make the final decisions accordingly. The single person can be a number of different individuals depending on the situation. When you are making a record, film or video game it is a collective effort of lots of talented artists. The director would be a fool if they didn’t listen and let the person with the most knowledge lead in those moments.

 

For example, where to put the lights for any given shot.

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Usually, the cinematographer is far more skilled in lighting than the director. In those moments, in this leadership in the moment model, they assumed the role of making the final decisions at that point in time. This arcing back in forth between different people being in control or providing the vision is a dance to be sure. But it is the only way I ever saw it work out for everyone.