strategy and business

Using Improv to Transform How You Lead

Leaders who listen and engage in open dialogue with their employees gain enormous advantages. Yet, in practice, leaders sometimes hesitate to invite such dialogue, because they fear their employees’ opinions will be off-base. Rather than face a confrontation, these managers sidestep important conversations altogether.

Avoiding difficult conversations may seem easier in the short term. But over the long haul, leaders cannot achieve alignment, empowerment, or accountability without actively engaging their employees. What leaders need, then, is a way to be open and accepting, even if they ultimately disagree and decide to go in a different direction. This is where one of the key tenets of improvisational comedy can help: “yes, .” means agreeing means building on what he or she has offered. For example, if your improv partner raises her hand to her ear, pantomiming a phone, and says, “Customer service, may I help you?” you respond as a customer disputing a credit card bill. If your partner winds up for a pitch, you swing for the bleachers.

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