How to assess your leadership style

Here’s another (acronym free) approach to thinking about your leadership style, directly applied from the language of an Improviser.

In Improv we say, “Everything is an offer”. Everything we do or say on stage is an offer that our partners must accept and build (yes, and!) on stage.

The very first offer we give on stage is of utmost importance. In assessing our offers, we can categorize them as:

1. Open

2. Vague

3. Closed 

Here is an example:

1. Open: “Help, my car is on fire”

2. Vague: “Help!”

3. Closed: “Help! My car is on fire and it started smoking 3 minutes ago and I think I know what to do if you just call the fire department and then stand here with me on this small-town sidewalk for a while”.

Essentially, in thinking about the way we communicate with our staff, how clear are our offers, and how much room do they leave for our employees to add to them. Mastering “strong” offers takes practice and is essential to the give-and-take and listen-then-react muscles Improvisers build.

It is often a matter of trust. But, sometimes on stage, our offers or lack of strong offers is actually caused by fear.

In assessing your leadership style, think about the clarity, brevity, and forcefulness of your offers. How much room do you leave for your employees to take the ball and run, and contribute ideas. Or do you leave them with vague offers, where they are left scratching their heads unsure of your message and its purpose.


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