Improv – A Lesson in Leadership

Improv Lesson in LeadershipDuring a recent outing of the Emerging Speakers Bureau group to an Intro to Improv Workshop facilitated by the Philly Improv Theatre, I experience a completely unexpected benefit. Our Bureau chair, Rae-Ann Ruszkowski suggested this outing as a way to garner stage time and stretch our communication / performance muscles.

Our teacher, Caitlin Weigel, guided us through many exercises, from an Introduce Yourself IceBreaker, Dancing (Show You How I Get Down),  Funny Walks, three-line set-ups, two-player scenes and an event planning exercise.

The event planning exercise A.K.A “Yes, And” was to me a lesson in leadership. The exercise required a two-person team to plan an event, with the requirement to respond to each other’s idea with “No”; then we moved on to the same task but with the response of “Yes, But”; and finally, we moved on to planning the event with each person responding “Yes, And”.

From everyone in the room we found the “Yes, And” to provide us the best success in being able to actually plan the event and accomplish the objective (mission, goal, project, etc) that we had. While Caitlin articulated that the exercise was meant to give us the understanding of how to be open with our partner on stage and to be able to accept the gift you are given by way of what your partner presents in the form of an idea (scene, scenario, etc).

For me, I saw when presented with the opportunity to lead a group, the same idea is applicable. Working through any project to reach a common goal requires there is an openness to share and willingness to receive the input of others. When conflict and differences arise, we should respond with the mindset of “Yes, And”, so we can find a place of common ground and not foster obstacles. It was an unexpected surprise for me; but in case, you never thought it so, improv can indeed be a lesson in leadership.

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