How To Start & Grow Your Business

Improvisational Acting Might Make You a Better Leader

From the Editor's Desk
Sep 22nd, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 2 min read
  • Hummy's

    1Step into the unknown. 2Observe which behaviors, instincts, and attitudes help. 3A leader is the keeper of a group’s emotions.
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Leadership-if your actions inspire others to dream more Photo Credit: justasc Shutterstock

Have you considered trying improv theater to develop your leadership skills? It turns out that many of the same traits you need to be a good leader are developed through improvisational acting. Qualities like spontaneity, confidence, flow, grace under pressure, adaptability and being in the moment make you more effective with others.

In an article on Izzy Gesell describes how he helps managers improve their leadership abilities through a series of group improvisation exercises. “When you watch yourself play in a pressure-filled situation—whether in an improv setting or elsewhere—you see the ‘real you,’” Gesell explains.

Many improv theater principles translate well into a business environment, particularly earned status and self-awareness.

Earned status

For example, the first person to volunteer to be in one of the improv activities demonstrates a lot of comfort in one’s own skin and a willingness to wholeheartedly participate in the activity, without knowing anything about it beforehand.

This courageous person immediately earns status in the group, and the others increase their admiration of him or her. In the workplace, by being willing to move forward into the unknown where others hesitate, your leadership role is strengthened.


The exercises also bring self-awareness of one’s stumbling blocks and limiting behaviors. One participant reported realizing that she always carries a sense of undue urgency in every situation which has a counterproductdive effect on her direct reports.

“A leader is, in many ways, the keeper of a group’s emotions. Creating joy, tempering fear, and erasing doubt are a few of the talents of a leader many would want to follow. Start to become that leader by applying the improv principles of stepping up and observing how you act under pressure,” he concludes.

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From the Editor's Desk

This article was written by a bizHUMM Staff Writer. We aim to provide practical tips that help solve your burning small business questions. If you have any suggestions or ideas for articles, please email them to: