In the world of operatic or musical theatre, character roles are based on our voice type, voice quality, and body type. There is a certain something that a musical casting director is seeking in his/her assessment and choice of a character. Hopefully, when all is said and done, the cast of the opera or musical is the best of the best. After the cast is selected, it is now time to experience the team chemistry.
The same is true in business: our team chemistry can be determined by who we interact with on the team. As the mezzo soprano, I will sing my duets with specific characters. My role in the opera or musical will serve a specific purpose. I will only be allowed to interact or fall in love with other designated characters. The casting of my voice type is planned. A specific example of this is seen in the Sound of Music where the mezzo-soprano is the old woman, the Mother Abbess, and the soprano is the young lead.
Thinking back on the musical, the Mother Abbess doesn’t appear in many scenes. Her status and power is felt in her inspirational aria, Climb Every Mountain. She fills a specific and important moment in Maria’s life by helping her move through this life changing transition.
In a team meeting or pitch, are you the Mother Abbess, who only needs to chime in briefly – but with great authority? Perhaps you are the soprano, taking the lead and the majority of the attention?
Our team communication is similar to casting in an opera or musical. We can predetermine how and what role we can play when communicating with clients. Business teams can be more flexible than casting for a specific voice type, so we do not always need to play the same role in our team. One team member may have a more compatible communication style for a specific client and it is our task to figure out what people are more dynamic and in which roles.
- Ask the question before each client interaction: who is best cast in each role for this client?
- Is a more assertive approach or a gentler approach needed in this communication and what team member is needed for each of these?
- Do we have an understudy ready if a team member has an unexpected emergency?
- Is there a member of the team that fits the musical theater swing role, meaning they are versatile and highly skilled and can step in to any role at any given time?
- Do you know why you are in the role you are in? What skill or skills make that role the best fit? How does that change how you interact with the others?
By thinking about our team casting and the roles that each member does or can play, we create a more innovative approach to our client interactions and open the possibility for landing more business. As we say in the opera world, the opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Look at your cast and know that everyone can sing.
by Robin A. Miller, Ph. D.