It’s always important to be a great leader, but when clients are stressed and deadlines are never-ending, the importance of it is even more crucial. Perhaps your team is already a well-oiled machine. Maybe you have some new team members this season. There could be a possibility that there are a few people on your team that don’t see eye-to-eye. Regardless of your team’s dynamic, it’s your job to unify and build up the team so they can operate at their greatest capacity.
Improv: Turning the Spotlight to Others
A large part of unifying and increasing positive feelings in your team has to do with increasing the trust between you and each of your team members. One critical way of doing this is helping your people excel and look good – which may sometimes feel like you are shifting it away from yourself. However, when you do this, the spotlight will eventually shine on you. Simon Sinek who gave one of the most popular TED talks to date on the subject of getting to the “why” of our actions, has since explored this notion of leaders seeing to the needs of others before themselves. In his most recent book, Leaders Eat Last he touches on the military mindset of “officers eat last” – the idea that leaders are willing to forgo their immediate needs in the interest of others. When your team sees your commitment to them, their commitment to you is met, which increases engagement and overall performance.
This is where improv so perfectly prepares an individual to lead: it is built on the very ideas of team, give and take, adaptation, vision, and the willingness to accept risks associated with certain decisions. Imagine yourself participating in an improv sketch with a few other individuals. Your overall success requires the collective efforts and individual victories of everyone involved. And so it is with leaders in the business world.
Improv = Success
In business, everything can always come back to improv. And here’s why: being a selfless leader who is able to earn the respect and cooperation from a team of completely different individuals, requires a certain emotional maturity and strength. I sometimes see a dismissive look in people’s eyes when I mention the word “improv,” as if to say, “What are you trying to sell me here?” They soon learn that improvisation involves a lot more than comedy. Leaders must respect, trust, support, listen, focus, and adapt. They need that “yes, and…” attitude.
The fact is, improv can be funny, but it works in situations that aren’t very fun[ny] at all – like busy season. It also allows you to take a step back and recognize the importance of “the team” effort, and the individual contributions that make up that team thereby helping you be the great leader you want and need to be.
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