By: STO Bradyn Parmelly, Rockwall Heath HS, Troupe 5872
Hello Texas Thespians!
At our second Super Saturday, we dove into our leadership workshop, entitled the Ringleader’s Toolbox. For those who missed this workshop, we want to share it with every Texas Thespian. Our goal is to express the many ways troupe leaders can use their toolbox and form connections to benefit their troupe in the best possible ways.
In our toolbox, we have FIVE tools. These are the tools we use to run a successful and cohesive state leadership board. Our toolbox consists of blueprints, a level, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a wrench. Now, you’re probably wondering what we actually mean by these items. Don’t worry. We are about to demonstrate each of these tools and show the connections all of us can make.
Hammer: We use this for our actions. As a leader, you need to mean what you say. Don’t just say things in order to get votes or approval from your troupe members or directors. We know it’s been said so many times before, but your actions will always speak louder than your words. As a leader, you need to understand that the actions that need to be taken in your troupe can not just be taken on by one person. As nice as it is to have the satisfaction of doing something all by yourself, oftentimes matters of change needed to be done in your troupe or department are too difficult to take on by yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your fellow troupe members, officers, and your directors. Reaching out for help shows that you are wanting the best for your department, and you just need some extra help. Finally, you can not take action unless you use your entire toolbox. This goes along with every single tool in your toolbox, you can’t just take one tool out and expect it to fix everything, you need to use all of them together in order to reach success in your department.
Blueprint: Otherwise known as our Leader’s Mission, your blueprint serves to help understand that leadership should never be self-centered. Instead, it should be focused on improving your troupe, department, and school as a whole. Always keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. Are you doing it for the title, or are you doing it because you think it’s going to make your troupe better? Establishing a Leader’s Mission at the beginning of the year gives you the ability to think about what you’re doing and check if it is on track with your original plan for the year. If it isn’t, it reminds you to get back on track to make sure you’re doing what needs to be done for your troupe. Additional ways to make sure you’re following your Leader’s Mission are to always serve others before yourself, do things that help benefit the troupe as a whole, and make sure that you’re creating a brighter future for your troupe and the many thespians that will venture through your department in years to come.
Screwdriver: This is your tool for communication. Communication is one of the most important things needed in your troupe. You can’t do anything unless you are open and willing to communicate with every single member of your troupe, every officer on your board, your directors, and your teacher. There are many ways to communicate. You can use Instagram, Remind, Twitter, Google Classroom, and so many more. Having communication in your troupe is incredibly important because it establishes an open line for everyone in your troupe, whether they need to reach out, if they have questions, or if they just need someone to talk to. Additionally, this allows for you to share information quicker. It gives the ability to connect with members of your department and establishes necessary equality and trust with every member. Communication is an essential way to accomplish your goal as a leader, bring an open environment to your troupe, and make everything you plan to do throughout the year that much easier.
Level: We use this for level-headed leadership. A level itself is used to make sure that things are balanced and have a good foundation. You should never build things on an uneven foundation, and that’s exactly what level-headed leadership is for. Keeping a level head as a leader is required. Keeping this level-headedness allows you to make sure you’re staying on track in reaching and achieving your goals you created in your Leader’s Mission, as well as helps you lead with integrity and accountability. Not only does it help you as a person and a leader, but it also helps you feel empathetic towards other people’s situations, and shapes you more from a leader into a friend, which is a great type of leadership. These discussions that will come out of being a level-headed leader will lead you to finding new discoveries and achieving new and bigger things than you had originally envisioned. Remember, good leaders work alone, but great leaders work together.
Wrench: We use this tool to tighten up all your loose pieces, or your officer board. We understand that all schools may have different boards, whether it be an officer board with titles and specific jobs, or a committee style board where everyone works together as an entire unit to accomplish things. Both of these leadership styles are phenomenal, so don’t be deterred if boards around you have officers and you are serving on a committee style board. Every board will have different combinations of positions. Some of the most common jobs include your Chair/President, Vice Chair/Vice President, Social Media Chair, Social Events Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, Grade Liaisons, Historian and so many more. We touched on an agenda for your board meetings this year, and even with everything going on in our world, there are so many ways you can make meetings just as fun. Don’t make it obvious that things are different than the years prior, just dive into everything and make it no different than how it would’ve been in the years prior. Treat all events and meetings the same way but with a new, fun virtual twist.
This wraps up our tools, but we also gave more information on how we can connect as leaders and opportunities Texas Thespians can attain. We also want you to know about a few other opportunities that exist.
Scholarships, Grants, and ITO: You can apply for scholarships and grants, as well as apply for an International Thespian Officer, through the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) website. Under the Programs drop down at the top of the page, click the section that says “Awards, Grants, and Scholarships”, and click the “Get Started” button. Through that, you can view the dozens of opportunities that EdTA has to offer for Texas Thespian leaders. However, due to COVID-19, applying for an International Thespian Officer may be different this year, and for those who are interested in applying, make sure to check the website for updates on applying for these positions.
Wildfire vs. Campfire Leaders: We also discussed different styles of leadership, as well as good and bad ways to lead. You want to make sure you are always being a campfire leader and not a wildfire leader. Campfire leaders are warm, comforting, and bring all of thespians together; wildfire leaders are controlling, demanding, and often drive members away. Also discussed were the ways a ringleader leads. Whether you are more of a slow or fast leader, or if you are task or people oriented, you are actually a combination of all four. None of these styles of leadership are above the others; you need to have a combination of all four in order to run a successful department and be a leader of all people.
Poor Group Dynamics: Next, we talked about poor group dynamics and the ways that we can fix these problems. It is inevitable to face a disagreement within your department, but we have to remember that not all forms of conflict are bad. Through conflict, we can always find ways to improve. You must retain your professionalism, remember to keep an open mind and continue to stay in good character. Leaders also need to practice neutralism. As a leader, you need to face the problem at hand, not the people.
Problem Solving Pyramid: As a secondary addition to conflict, we talked about our problem solving pyramid. There are five steps in your problem solving pyramid, and they go in order: define your problem, break down the parts and issues people feel or see, brainstorm solutions, work through possible outcomes, move forward to solve the best you can. After that, it’s game time! Put your solution into play, and once the problem is solved, you are able to look back and see how you grew and improved as a troupe.
Connections: After this, we dove into our connections section of the presentation, where we discussed the benefits of connections with your troupe, your school, troops around you, and your community. Having connections gives you the ability to grow and expand as a troupe. It draws attention to what you’re doing as a theatre department and gives you the stepping stones to do bigger and better things, like advocate for Theatre In Our Schools Month in your hometown. The easiest ways to make connections are to reach out to businesses and companies around you. Look for mutually beneficial relationships, and reach out to those with similar interests. The worst thing they can do is say no, so don’t be afraid to throw your hat into the ring.
Well, Texas Thespians, that’s it for our leadership recap! If this speaks to you, join us on December 5th to take the workshop with us live. We can’t wait to see all of you at our next Super Saturday, and we hope you have all had an absolutely fabulous time at Texas Thespian State Festival so far. Keep sending in pictures, stories, duck tales, and more.
See you soon,
Your 2020 Texas State Thespian Officers