It was a performance of the Nutcracker with a packed house during the snow scene that involves an intricate dance and requires the stage crew to lightly sprinkle snow during the latter half of the scene. But, at this performance, a new stagehand was learning the ropes, and instead of lightly sprinkling the snow he dumped out all 25 pounds at once. What was supposed to be a dusting of snow was instead an avalanche. The crowd gasped and giggled, the dancers went on with the show, and the director looked…. surprised.
As intermission approached the stage hand was not looking forward to hearing from the director. What would she say? What would she do? Exactly how much trouble was he in? Then, the curtain closed, and the director did something entirely unexpected. She walked right out on stage and made a snow angel.
As leaders, people expect certain responses from us. And, sometimes the best thing we can do for them is to give them an unexpected response. It keeps them on their toes, keeps them guessing about what we are thinking and helps them to see that we are complex individuals too.
The directed didn’t need to correct the stagehand. He already knew his mistake and wouldn’t make it again. She did something far better, she inspired the cast with a bit of unexpected fun. I try to be that kind of leader. I hope you do too.