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Directing is 90% Casting

Hollywood film industry veterans will sometimes tell you that “directing is 90% casting.” The secret of being a great Director is fielding a team of talented people who don’t really need much coaching to deliver a solid performance.

In the movie world, Steven Spielberg is the epitome of someone who directs his cast and crew to capture the audience’s imagination, while in business that role falls to people like Steve Jobs, who has proved himself brilliant at motivating his teams to create something “insanely great.” Both Directors have the ability to bring out the best in their teams, often with a contagious enthusiasm that spurs individuals and project groups to extraordinary achievements.

Sure, Directors have the mantle of authority, but the best ones don’t have to rely on the power of the hierarchy. I dedicated a whole chapter to Directors in The Ten Faces of Innovation, but the role is more about coaching and mentoring than about being “the boss.”

And great Directors–in busines and in film–are content to let others take center-stage, confident in the knowledge that their behind-the-scenes work will make the whole production come together. You never see Steven Spielberg onscreen—-except at the Oscars.

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