Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Inner Theater: What is playing on your screen?

Written by: on October 28, 2016



In his book The Leadership Mystique, Manfred Kets de Vries , professor in human resource management, INSEAD writes that “Organizations are like automobiles. They don’t run themselves, except downhill. They need people to make them work. And not just any people, but the right people.”

Organizations are quite intricate organisms and have to be managed well.  Most leaders are complex because they have an outward appearance that is critical to their success but in this book the internal issues outweigh the external ones.  People want guidance.  Some people are complete self-starters and can motivate themselves.  Then at the other extreme are people who need complete oversight and constant management.  The balance is where the majority of workers live and they need direction to be productive.

How the organization will perform has to do with the effectiveness of the leader.   Leaders are needed to set the course, the speed and duration of the flow for the organization.  An organization can have all the right things in place, strong finances, market position and state of the art technology but can be derailed and all of these advantages can go by the wayside because of leadership.  The outward appearance of a leader is not where the determining factors are at.  The inside of each leader is where the internal and social dynamics are located.  Leadership can fail based on what is going on inside of them and how they have been hardwired since birth to react and respond to the issues that arise over time.



There is a tension that must be present between what is irrational behaviour and what is rational.  One of the key phrases that I highlighted over and over again in the book was this phrase, “inner theater.”  This is our own unique mixture of motivational needs that determines our character and creates the triangle of our mental life—a tightly interlocked triangle consisting of cognition, affect and behaviour.

“Emotional intelligence” is a label that is given to an understanding of the motivational forces of self and others.  Our inner theater plays a vital role in the leadership equation.    People who are emotionally intelligent are more likely to be effective leaders.  The crazy thing about all of this is that you cannot learn this style of leadership by reading it from a book, instead this is an experiential process.

The inner theater is a very interesting concept.  How often does an outward appearance deceive people into believing something about the person that is not true?  The projected image is false when you get behind closed doors or up close and personal.  Personality is one thing but the character of a leader within their own personal sanctuary is another.  How effective is charisma when there is not competence or even ethical practices being carried out?  Is there something within the inner theater of a person that brings drama to their leadership?  Does it affect their whole organization?

Think about this from the author’s perspective, “an individual’s leadership style-a synthesis of the various roles that he or she chooses to adopt- is a complex outcome of the interplay of that person’s inner theater, as expressed in core issues (which are influenced by traits and temperament) and the competencies that the person develops over the course of a lifespan.”  So how to be an effective leader is marked by the choices that are adopted from life experience.  Everything we do affects our ability to lead other people.

So how do you develop an inner theater that is healthy?  At the end of the book there was a chapter on the best places to work.  And what I have discovered once again is that when there is not a word to describe what is desired it is best to just make up your own language and identify it yourself.  Authentizotic is such a word.  Authentic…where the leadership walks the talk.  It has a connectivity quality to it and sets itself apart by the fact that it has flow which helps people to feel complete and alive.  The second word is zoteekos which means vital to life.  This element of the word brings balance and completeness to the person.  The human need for exploration associated with cognition and learning is met.  Developing a culture that includes these elements helps to direct the inner theater.  It is a conscious choice to lead this way with in a team structure that benefits the leader as well as the followers.  This style is a place to foster belonging and importance for everyone involved.

I really like the acronym for this style of inner theater.
A Autonomy:  Culture to create creativity

I  Interaction:  Culture to create synergy

R Recognition:  Culture to foster empowerment.


Giving AIR to your inner theater is what sets organizations and leaders apart.

As I summarize what I have read I consider this a golden book to encourage us to take great self-evaluation to consider where we are stuck and where we are off-center.  The analysis of all the things within a leader’s personality flows over into the organizations that they lead so recognizing areas where growth must take place is paramount.  The inner struggles that everyone has as a leader (which all have clinical names) is common to everyone.  So how to manage yourself and to manage how you manage is an area of growth and development.   So examine your inner theater and if it is needed…change the movie!



About the Author


Kevin Norwood

My name is Kevin Norwood and I have been in youth ministry for the past 34 years. On February 14th, 1994, 27 years ago, we moved to Owasso OK and wow what a ride. My wife, Ann, is an RN and specializes in Clinical Documentation working from home. Maci is a my 21 year old daughter and she loves and shows horses. Her horse's name is Charlie. She is currently working with animals and loves to go on trail rides with her horse. London is my 10 year old son and he keeps me young. He absolutely loves life!! Golfing, baseball and Hawaii is his latest adventures. He skied for the first time in Colorado this year. I have started a coaching business for pastors at www.kevinnorwood.com and it is exciting the doors that God is opening. I earned my Doctorate in Leadership and Global Perspectives from George Fox on Feb 10, 2018.

12 responses to “Inner Theater: What is playing on your screen?”

  1. Hi Kevin. Thanks for this. I liked the author’s use of made-up words and the concept of “inner theater.” You end with saying that when it comes to one’s inner theater, if change is needed, change the movie. I love movies! I read his use of the word theater though as more live drama, or as you write, based on experiences. Movies are “made” and then shown. I am wondering if changing one’s movie would mean going back to one’s past (like a produced movie) and living out of one’s present (live) inner theater with live actors. I know this is a bit “out there” but it’s what I’m thinking after reading your blog. What do you think?

  2. I thought seriously about my final line being rewrite the script. Sometimes undoing what has been done or experience takes “redoing” this. Another leadership experience replaces a negative one. A positive encounter with conflict can replace a disastrous one. Changing the movie….my thought on that is that often we can get so locked in that we hit play and repeat over and over again. Completely changing how you look at things is one of the suggestions that he gave in the book.


  3. Jason Kennedy says:

    Great blog. I teach often on expectations vs reality to my staff. The gap between those two is where frustration comes in. So as a leader, I try not to oversell or undersell who I am. I try to be as honest with who I am as possible. This is not always easy. Great job.

    • Being authentic is the real thing I believe. Not overselling what you don’t believe in and underselling what you know will make a difference is sometimes the balance. I have discovered if I tell our students no matter where we are at we will have fun that they start to believe and create that culture. Interesting.


  4. Marc Andresen says:


    You wrote, “The inside of each leader is where the internal and social dynamics are located.” Can you identify ways in which your internal workings have moved toward differentiation and emotional intelligence? (This question is NOT a statement that you have been lacking here: rather an assumption that we are all constantly growing and changing.) To ask the question another way, are you aware of the script of your inner theater being rewritten? Have you learned anything about your own hard wiring?

    I like the word “authentizotic.”

    • Marc,
      I believe this whole semester’s reading has been about coming to grips with who were are internally. Some of the things that I know about myself internally are tremendously intentional. The things I wrestle the most with are things that I haven’t taken the time to address. How I will react or respond to specific things. How I will interact with certain struggles. It is interesting as you grow through what we are reading there is a more clear definition of who I am. I do know this, I have presence when I walk into a room of students, of other leaders and with my peers. That is where I have lived for the past 35 years. I have been afforded that platform so I treat it with respect.


  5. Pablo Morales says:

    Thank you for a good blog. Like you, I also enjoyed the perspective that you highlighted in your blog. I even kept thinking of the same question that you asked: “So how do you develop an inner theater that is healthy?” I was left with the impression that the book can only tell me the “what” but not the “how.” It seems that the “how” is found in the field of theology.

    I believe that embracing our new identity in Christ is a key ingredient in developing a healthy inner theater. The self-esteem issues inherited from our upbringing, the emotional wounds of life, and the hopes for the future are all redefined in the process of sanctification. It is in Christ that I discover that I was purposefully created, intentionally gifted, and personally called for eternal purposes. It is in Christ that I discover that whatever I do has an audience of one. Learning to honor God above everything else and to pursue His interests above any other pursuit can free our minds from the constant self-seeking chains that tend to enslave us. Embracing the sanctifying work of the Spirit is the most powerful way of developing an inner theater that is healthy.

    • Kevin Norwood says:

      You truly understand what I was writing about. I can’t change my past but God can change my future and he can EVEN change me internally. The Holy Spirit is the one missing ingredient in the books that we have read about this issue.

      With students, I can tell them the truth but the Spirit is who sets them free, changes their life. I can’t do that but God still has the ability to make that change. I can’t change behaviour or attitude but God in just a moments time can rearrange and adjust all of those things. Thanks goodness!!

      God Bless

  6. Phil Goldsberry says:


    I love the title, “Inner Theater”. You have addressed a major issue in ministry…..charisma versus character and the possible results that can/will follow. I believe a leader can possess both.

    Authentizotic – what are a couple of principles that assist a leader to balance charisma, character and be authentic? This seems to be the “Achilles heel” for leaders.


  7. Kevin Norwood says:


    I believe the word that we have discovered this semester is true humility. Being confident enough in your skin to let your presence change things instead of your charisma. Presence is handed down, charisma is worked up. I was just with Dr. Billy Wilson and he exudes presence. No pretence, no airs just who he is walking slowly through the crowd.

    I think that is what we enjoy about Glenn, Church and Diane, just being real and present.

    The principles I believe are in knowing who you are and continuing to let the Holy Spirit shape your “inner theater.” So many people get locked in but I have tried to remember the reason I am in the ministry is because I responded so many times to the Holy Spirits call and direction. To continue to respond to him and never out grow our source.

    Hope that helps.


  8. Garfield Harvey says:

    You stated that “in this book the internal issues outweigh the external ones.” I also agree with this concept because this is evident in the perception of Millenials. As we consider the current trend of our new leaders, they’re not concerned about the external traits that made the previous generations effective but we can only assume that they’re searching for guidance. We can also assume that they’ve become impatient with the process of becoming productive. Why this assumption? Simple, everything consumed by this generation was already created for them and I believe this fuels their internal motivation.


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