When I first heard that we were going to learn how to be authentic leaders through improv, I immediately started thinking of reasons I couldn’t attend. My fear of improv almost got the better of me. Girl, am I glad I faced that fear. Our guide, Melissa, reminded us that leadership is a combination of anticipation, reaction, adaptation and communication. All of which are required to do improvisation. Improv also forces participants to shed the masks that we unintentionally wear – which are harmful to our leadership efforts. The night was filled with laughter, moments of vulnerability and learning. Here are my top three takeaways from the event:
1. Hiding our true self prevents us from being a true leader
Often times the concept of what a leader is feels very rigid. A leader is a good this, but not that and has these skills, etc… But the reality is that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes and no two leaders are the same. The skill that is crucial to leadership regardless of style is authenticity. If we hide who we truly are by trying to fit into the leader “box” then we remove that authenticity, undermining our efforts.
2. Celebrating wins AND failures elevates everyone
A simple rock-paper-scissors tournament went from competition to an exercise in empowerment simply by celebrating every single win and loss. By focusing on the celebration, rather than the end goal, every person felt like they were a part of the journey and were a part of the ultimate win! It became clear, that by refocusing on celebrating progress, we can boost engagement and investment on top of elevating the entire team’s satisfaction. Despite that, we often forget to celebrate the wins, much less celebrate the failures in most aspects of our lives.
3. We are never alone in our fears and worries
Vulnerability in itself is scary. When you are worried about something, the idea of sharing that worry can add to the feelings of worry because of our aversion to being vulnerable. In reality, there is always someone who shares our fears much closer than we think. Only by opening up and being vulnerable are we able to find those allies and face those fears together. As a leader, you’ll find that your followers are often times your allies in your concerns – bringing you closer together as a team and strengthening your ability to overcome challenges together. But you’ll never know unless you open up!
Ultimately, I learned that authenticity is never a bad thing. Improv happens to be a great tool to create an authentic space and force folks (including myself) to take off the mask. So, I’m making a commitment to myself to insert more improv into my life and hang up the mask. It looks better hanging on the walls anyways.
HERdacity holds regular leadership events. Be sure to check out our upcoming events!