Dunvegan Blog

Leadership is like Improv: You never know what might show up!

At a Leadership Retreat, I recently facilitated, participants engaged in an Improv Session to hone their skills for dealing with the unexpected.

This was an opportunity for participants to engage in a new experience in a safe and non-judgmental environment. The first unexpected thing for them to deal with was Improv itself! All were called upon to muster their courage to try something new and learn new skills.

While uncomfortable at the outset, the participants quickly adapted and accepted the challenge; they allowed themselves to step out of their comfort zones and have fun. They can apply their new skills in business and in life.

Here are four of the lessons learned:

  1. Be open to new experiences
  2. Be present to receive information
  3. Be aware of the three V’s
  4. Be a team player

When leaders are open to new experiences and new ideas, they encourage others to bring their ideas forward. Often it is easier and more expedient to say “No” than to take a risk.

New and better ideas create opportunities for innovation and continuous improvement in your organization. The next big idea may reside in the mind of one of your team members – make sure you are not shutting it down!”. Try saying, “Yes, and …” – what comes after is how you will make it happen, or the conditions under which it can happen, or who will need to be involved to make it happen.

When leaders are present, the moment, they are centered and able to focus on the issue or opportunity at hand. Resist the urge to think about “what ifs”, “worst cases” or “failure points” as you listen and absorb the information provided. Participate in building on the ideas presented to engage your team more fully. As you will see, your team knows when you are not present, or not supportive, even when you are not saying anything.

Leaders who are open, present, aware, and able to play the appropriate role on the team bring out the best in everyone, no matter what shows up!

Leaders who are aware of the three V’s of communication are better able to communicate the intended messages. The first V is for Verbal; this refers to the words that you use. Words, while important, comprise just 7% of the communicated message. The second V is for Vocal; this refers to your tone of voice. Your tone of voice is responsible for 38% of the message you are sending. The third V is Visual; your face and body language. The look on your face and the way you stand communicate 55% of the message! Be aware that even when you are not speaking, you are sending a clear message; be sure it is the one you intend.

Great leaders are team players; they know when to take charge and when to let others take the lead. When confronted with a new experience or new ideas, leaders who step back and let others provide insights and make decisions to demonstrate that they are “on the team”.

Leaders who are open, present, aware, and able to play the appropriate role on the team bring out the best in everyone, no matter what shows up!

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