Leadership Lessons Podcast: Tony Award Winner Michael Cerveris

Posted 08.31.2009

Mcerveris1 And for this latest edition of the Leadership Lessons Podcast, something completely different. I’m talking today with the Tony Award winning Broadway star Michael Cerveris. Since his Broadway debut in 1993 as the lead in The Who’s Tommy, Michael has been nominated for four Tony Awards including best actor for Sweeney Todd and winning best actor for his role as John Wilkes Booth in Stephen Sondheim’s The Assassins.  His credits are too numerous to mention here but you may also know him as The Observer in the Fox series, Fringe.  This Fall he’ll be appearing in the new film, The Vampire’s Assistant with Salma Hayek and John C. Reilly and, beginning in October, will open at Lincoln Center as one of the leads in In The Next Room.

An impressive career to be sure, but why is Michael doing a Leadership Lessons Podcast? Here’s the deal. Michael and I have been friends since we were third graders back in Huntington, WV. Earlier this year, we got together for a visit when he was in the DC area to appear at a cool program for aspiring high school drama students called ArtSpeak. It was a combination of a performance and a conversation similar to what James Lipton would do on Inside the Actor’s Studio. In listening to Michael that evening, I was struck by how many things he said that relate directly to the practice of leadership. I wanted to share his insights with you and he graciously agreed to do a “best of” conversation for this blog.

Here are some of the parallels between actors and leaders that we cover in the conversation:

  • Dealing with the gap between your expectations and the current reality.
  • The importance of showing up centered and how to prepare for that.
  • Overcoming stage fright by redirecting your focus.
  • What leaders can learn from the best and worst directors about how to get the most from your people.
  • Keeping yourself grounded when you have very visible success.

It’s a pretty fascinating conversation if I do say so myself so I hope you’ll give it a listen.  I can practically guarantee you that it will be awhile before I have another guest with a resonant voice like Michael’s. Enjoy!

MP3 File