by Sunny Simon

Recently I saw the opera Prince Igor streamed in live from The Metropolitan Opera to a local theater. I’m a very minor league opera buff, basically just learning how to enjoy the art, but I’m making Price Igor my new favorite. Like the rest of the audience I appreciated the talent of the impressive cast and sat mesmerized listening to the chorus perform the Polovtsain Dances. However, what impressed me the most about this performance was the leadership lesson.

Prince Igor leads his army to a military campaign which turns into a battle gone wrong. His army is defeated, the Prince is tormented by the loss and eventually his palace is destroyed and left in ruins. Igor returns home and accepts ownership for the tragedy and this is where the tale turns positive. Igor passionately calls his followers to unite and rebuild their destroyed lives. He is the first to begin the restoration by symbolically lifting a heavy door and placing it back in the threshold.

In life, as on the stage or silver screen, if you want to earn the credibility and the trust of your team, lead by example. Becoming a respected leader requires displaying consistent and continual behavioral patterns. Getting the team charging in the right direction begins with honesty. The truth is essential in creating a foundation of trust. Communicate openly and with candor. Discourage politics by creating an open door policy. If the message is difficult to deliver, don’t sugar-coat it, be frank but kind.

Great leaders are also part of the team. That equates to being receptive and listening to the ideas of others. A manager is both a coach and student. Taking on responsibility and delegating fairly is another hallmark of a good leader. Adept problem solving ability and creativity are also necessary when assuming the lead role.

One lesson many leaders find hard to role model is work/life balance. A wise manager knows the value of time away from the job and encourages the team to do likewise. It is important to support employees when they schedule a family vacation or enjoy a morning off to accompany a child on the first day of kindergarten.

Most importantly, if you are a leader or positioning yourself for that role, follow Igor’s example. When you discover you are leading the team in the wrong direction, take ownership, admit your mistake and then quickly change course. Remain at your personal best by always speaking the truth.

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at