Want to be a leader? Play golf.

So much of the training we receive for our professions has nothing to do with our professions.  It has to do with our lives.

How we were raised, how we spent our childhood, and, yes, our hobbies have a major impact on how we build relationships, how we negotiate, and how we make decisions.

If you’re going to be a successful leader . . . of a company, or a country . . or a big fat Broadway show . . . you’re going to need a specific skill set.  So this past weekend, as I was whacking at a white ball down a fairway in Queens, I started to think about what set of weekend activities, or hobbies, would be the best to help foster the “in-the-driver’s-seat” qualities that I believe are needed.

Some might argue that you need “team” skills . . . and sure, there’s no question that you need to know how to work well with others (especially if you’re collaborating on a musical), but the problem with team activities is that you don’t feel the full weight of the success/failure/live/die results on your shoulders.

When you’re in charge, it’s all you, baby.

That’s why I advocate a regimen of individual competitive activities to help prep you for producing shows and leading a company.  Golf (ever feel what it’s like to step up at a first tee and have a whole gallery staring at you?), Chess (ever been seated a foot away from someone and have to strategize how to “kill” him/her?), Poker (ever know you have “the nuts,” and have to keep your composure when money is on the line?), Tennis, Running Marathons, Cooking, Acting (!) etc.

Anything where you are on the line.  No one else.

Because once you are numb to the stress and the pressure of complete responsibility, you’re actually able to free yourself up to use more of your mind on making the best decision, instead of trying to quiet your nerves.

There are natural leaders.  And then there are the rest of us.  And we could use as much practice as possible.

And besides, the above is a great excuse for taking off on a Friday and playing 18 holes.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.