Leadership in interdisciplinary collaboration: Holding space for psychological safety and peak performance

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Performing Arts Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Renee Newman


This practice as research presents a case study of leadership in interdisciplinary settings, considering choreographic collaboration within technology, visual art, music and dance, alongside models used in teaching dance. I define leadership as influencing others to act towards a shared intention by holding space for psychological safety and peak performance. I synthesise leadership models relevant to my practice in a figurative ‘tree of transformation’, illustrating how Jim Collins’ Level 5 leadership, Robert K. Greenleaf’s servant leadership and C. Otto Scharmer’s Theory U model branch out from transformational leadership.

Within peak performance, Anders K. Ericsson’s concept of deliberate practice and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow were explored. I discovered that they represent distinct stages within the peak performance cycle of i) struggle, ii) release, iii) flow and iv) recovery, with deliberate practice corresponding to the struggle stage. To facilitate peak performance, the leader continuously sets and adjusts goals based on continual feedback, co-creating within a collaborative conversation. Encoding appropriate cues of warmth and competence facilitates psychological safety for honest feedback and artistic vulnerability.

Understanding how to facilitate these conditions informed a method of leadership communication which emphasises clarity of intention and fully focused attention within the creative process, one that has been independently reinforced within Bogart’s practice of theatre directing. Clarity of intention and quality of attention, incorporating deep listening, enables one to transform the energy within a generative space for the internal (self) work and external (collaborative) work of creativity and artistic process.



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