Their venue may be a board room and their dialogue may consist of strategy and company vision, but in many ways, organizational leaders “perform” onstage and engage their audiences every day.!@!
The art of improvisation, just like leadership, depends on a symbiotic relationship between performer and audience. This correlation prompted Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works, to use improvisational techniques to help leaders recognize their employees. Ventrice believes recognition — employees’ sense of their own visibility in the workplace — is an important concept because it ultimately “creates a more motivated workforce by establishing the meaningful relationships that employees need and want.”
A recent BusinessWeek article highlighted Ventrice’s findings on the value of improv in teaching leaders to recognize their employees. Practicing improv not only improves presentation skills, Ventrice said, but also helps internalize other strengths such as listening, accepting others’ opinions and enhancing trust. After all, an improviser must be trusting of an audience’s support and accepting of its suggestions. Thus, when an organizational leader becomes more willing to consider employee opinions, Ventrice said, new opportunities are created and recognition is therefore heightened.
I’m struck by this idea because the chance to improve these often elusive organizational skills rarely arises in the form of something so entertaining. I’ve talked to people involved with improv groups, and they’ve all described the experience as immensely positive. Some have even called it life-changing. They’ve also said it’s a downright blast. As Ventrice said in the BusinessWeek article, “Improv provides leaders an opportunity to practice key skills so that they come more naturally in the workplace. It doesn't hurt that it is fun, too!”
What are your thoughts on using improv as a learning tool? Do you know of anything like this utilized in your enterprise? If so, was it successful? Let me know in the Comment section below.