As A Leader Or Manager, What Type Of Circus Act Best Describes Your Style?

April 3, 2014

This blog has been inspired by the incredible success of Cirque du Soleil which has become a global phenomenon. With 19 touring and resident performances around the globe, in places like Las Vegas and Tokyo, the company takes in more than $1bn (£600m) annually.

Cirque du Soleil realised that circus audiences would continue to fall due to peoples changing attitudes to wild animals in captivity. Their approach was to focus on acrobatics and visual art forms instead. It was obviously the right tactic!

I personally agree that wild animals have no place in the circus ring but for the purposes of this ‘fun’ blog I am including a couple of more traditional circus acts!

So do you recognise yourself or a colleague in any of these acts?

  • The High Wire – The manager with an unhealthy attitude to risk who is either incredibly brave or equally naïve. They are constantly teetering on the edge and give the impression that disaster could befall them at any time
  • The Clown – The practical joker, the life and soul of the party, the manager that is so intense that you can never relax around them. They usually look the part too in oversize suits and cartoon style ties
  • The Sword Swallower – The dramatic manager that volunteers them and their people for the most impossible of tasks. They are the masochist type of manager that enjoys the ‘pain’ and indeed they need it to motivate them
  • The Human Cannonball – Similar in nature to The Sword Swallower the Human Cannonball manager exists to show how brave they are. They lead by example and are always at the forefront of what your business is doing. They are the pioneers
  • The Trapeze Artist – Operating at the highest levels they perform well as part of the wider management team. They understand that they are just one part of the act but need others to create the best performance. Their timing is impeccable and they are always well prepared
  • The Stilt Walker – A manager with lofty ambitions and ideas above their station. These are people that have taken “Think, Act, Become” to a new level. They strap on their stilts to seem more important than they actually are. In reality they appear clumsy and often fall badly
  • The Lion Tamer – The Lion Tamer manager is only armed with a chair and a whip but feels in complete control. He is the manager the business rolls out when they need a public spokesperson following some sort of crisis. They have a complete air of confidence and calm at all times and never react.
  • The Ring Master – The Ring Master is the CEO of the Circus, They manage the proceedings in the same manner that a Conductor would manage an Orchestra. They makes sure that all of the acts are fully prepared and deliver their performances faultlessly and consistently. They are a figurehead more involved in strategy and planning.

Well there you have it – You will never go to the circus again without seeing your colleague’s faces in all of the acts! Personally I stay well clear, like many people I have a pathological phobia of clowns!

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Digitalart at

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