In every field there are leaders who stand out in bright, bold colors in front of the pack. They are the teachers, not just for those who work for and with them; they are teachers and leaders for generations to come.
When a leader is able to dive deeply into the essence of what makes us human there is a special quality that lingers long after what they have said or done is completed.
Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to the words of such a man. His words and thoughts are timeless, and affect male and female alike. Many of his most profound words are put to music and thus remembered while humming a tune such as, “Send in the Clowns.”
I wonder if there is anyone past the age of sixteen who has ever been in a complex relationship and has not thought about sadly humorous moments when the relationship was ready to tank and not wanting the inevitable to happen.
If you have an opportunity to see “A Little Night Music” do it. If you have an opportunity to see “Sweeny Todd” don’t hesitate. If you can purchase a copy of “Into the Woods” it will remain with you forever. And, the words from “West Side Story” are pure poetry, Romeo and Juliette in the era of street gangs.
Leaders, I suggest, are those who leave us with more to think about, more to digest, more to learn about life, about ourselves, and we are better for having connected with them. Stephen Sondheim who recently turned 80 has given us a legacy of multi-layered characters who struggle to make sense out of life and transcend from the banal to a place of saying a modicum of “Now I see it just a bit more clearly and I’m the better for it.”
In reading the Playbill after seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury in “A Little Night Music” I was struck by the importance of honoring those who have spent their lives pushing the limit to find new ways to express the power of human emotions, to help us transcend the petty and provincial for the larger view.
Those who have been part of a Sondheim play talked about how their lives have been deepened by his work and words. Barbra Streisand calls his work “Simply complex.”
Isn’t that the sign of a great leader, offering a view of the complexities of life and helping to make them simple? Think about how you as a leader tackle what is truly meaningful and offer insights to your team, your organization. It’s the true challenge of outstanding leadership.