Improv Your Way to Being a Winner-Leader

There’s a wonderful movie out called Don’t Think Twice. It’s directly about Improv  — so enjoy some very funny scenes. Yet it moves beyond Improv to Improv’s relationship with mainstream “show business.”  And, as Keegan-Michael Key shared with Stephen Colbert it actually moves well beyond that to offer a bigger statement…one relevant to Reading for Leading:

(The clip is 5 minutes. You can simply watch from 1 minute to 1:30 to get the point, if you don’t have the time for some good laughs.)

So, it’s not just show business, where some people unabashedly watch out for #1. You find them in the politics of business — and in the business of politics. You even find them in family. (And truth be told you find such characters within yourself!) And some of them win — for a while — sometimes for a long while. But, unlike the definition, which a certain presidential candidate seems to steer by, they are not “winners,” but are losers. They lose the trust of their colleagues, their direct reports, and unfortunately often their families as well. They lose their reputations. So often, they entirely lose their way.

Great leaders are great Improv people and it’s worth reminding yourself of how to be so:

1. Generate the internal discipline to say, “yes, and…” This validates others, causes you to broaden your view as you look for their insights, and generates the possibility:
2. That teams generate more than individuals.

Jim Collins famously wrote in Good to Great that he wanted to NOT suggest that companies that made the leap to greatness did so in large part because of leaders. But his researchers came back and said, Sorry Jim, but it’s true. There’s too much data in our interviews to deny it. But what they found out about what Collins called “Level 5 Leaders” is that their greatness sprang from the combination of “personal humility” and “fierce resolve.” These leader are winners. These leaders create winners.

See a good movie, improvise with your team, and

Lead with your best self!


  • Good morning, sir,
    There Is so much hate in the world! People hates based on lies, jealousy, or some other reason. Good Leadership/winners should start with no race baiting, no name calling, and treat everyone as their equal, don’t judge people by what their foes (or anyone) saids. Everyone on earth is the same as another. Also, everyone Including someone in high office can’t have good leadership or be a winner if they don’t listen. Can our society even be fixed, for the future of our children.?

    I watched the whole tape. Good clip!

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