How learning to improvise can make you a better leader

When the stakes are high, when the pressure is on, how do you react?

Do you embrace change and new ideas or tend to shy away?

How do you inspire a team?

These are just a few important questions and challenges being posed to those on the cusp of a leadership role.

To train new leaders to inspire a team and encourage innovation, we can take many lessons from the training of an Improviser and directly apply them to the challenges of your organization:

Here are some training tools:

Encourage openness by starting positive and embracing a “Yes, And” mindset – You never know where the next good idea is going to come from, but we may not be trained to stay open to them.  We as a society can be too quick to reject each others ideas and criticize before we understand the idea.

After all, innovation springs from connecting ideas together.

Promote the value of group success –  by adopting the improv principle of “make your partner look good”. Lead by promoting the value of group success and reward groups for their achievement. In the long run, this mindset provides everyone with the incentive to learn and grow.

Learn to Listen and Empathize – What seems like common sense often takes more practice and skill. Active listening builds connections and trust and fosters a collaborative work environment. In addition, remembering key contributions and conversations of your team contributes to a feeling of being heard and valued at work.  Knowing your team allows a leader to better understand how to inspire and motivate each team member.

Adapt – become more comfortable with the unknown – Improvisers learn to live in the present, and to accept whatever comes their way on stage. The skills of listening, openness and putting the group first aids their ability to deal with the unknown because they feel completely supported on stage, free to take risks, and equipped to embrace failure.

As leaders, we cannot control the outcome of every initiative, but we can control how we react to what comes our way.

These personal skills and attributes help leaders lead efforts of innovation and change, which are key for any company seeking to avoid complacency.

Which one new skill can you work on today?

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