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Perform To Win

Perform to Win: Unlocking the secrets of the arts for personal and business success, by Dr Mark Powell & Jonathan Gifford

Jack Isherwood put down the phone and stared blankly at his desk. He got to his feet with a rising sense of panic and looked around the office as if looking for a way to escape. He started to feel physically sick. Realising that it was only a matter of time before someone came into his office, he forced himself to breathe slowly and took a sip of water. Isherwood was the CEO of a successful engineering company based in Bedfordshire, England, and he had just finished the worst phone call of his career…  READ CHAPTER ONE OF PERFORM TO WIN

Jack Isherwood had just learnt that his engineering company is about to lose its longest-standing and biggest customer, putting the very survival of the company at risk. The problem didn’t seem to be about price or levels of service. The client said only that one competitive pitch in particular seemed ‘more exciting’ and that they needed their suppliers to bring them ‘new ideas’.

Isherwood persuaded the client to give them one last chance to save the account. He and his colleagues had just one month to put together a new pitch. When Isherwood told his four-person board, he was reminded that they were due to attend a radical new arts-based leadership development course at a leading UK business school the following week. The directors decide that the three-day course may give them the kind of new perspective they need on their relationship with the client.

Perform To Win follows the four directors as they experience workshop sessions with an ex-Royal Shakespeare company actor and director, a group of jazz musicians, championship-winning ballroom dance partners and a leading classical conductor and group of singers. The fictionalised sessions are based on a real-life major arts-based leadership development course designed and facilitated by Dr Mark Powell, one of the authors of Perform To Win, who designed and led a major four-year arts-based programme for senior project managers at a global oil and gas exploration company.

‘When people work closely with really great performing artists – dancers, singers, conductors, jazz musicians, whatever – they experience something,’ says Dr Powell. ‘It’s very moving, it’s very powerful, so it gets beneath people’s intellectual defences and then, typically, they really ‘get’ something. They really see how two dancers ‘connect’ – how they watch each other intently and pick up tiny bodily cues that allow them to move together, at speed, in an apparently magical way. Or they really ‘get’ how jazz musicians allow leadership to move around the group without any apparent signals, or how a choir and a conductor create a uniquely affecting performance of a piece of music, based only on the choir’s instinctive interpretation of the conductor’s body language. And when that wonderful ‘aha!’ moment happens, it never leaves you. So these people go back to their world with a different view of how you can work creatively with someone; how you can develop this real ‘ensemble’ approach of “We’re going to work together to make this a winning performance, and I have to help you to be brilliant to enable me to be brilliant.”’

How will the fictional board directors react to their close encounters with actors, jazz musicians, ballroom dancers and classical singers? What can they learn from the mindsets and techniques of these world-leading performing artists and will it help the to develop a winning performance of their own?

Read Perform To Win and unlock the secrets of the arts for your own personal and business success!

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