The soft skills associated with improv are actually the hard skills because there’s not an equation to be a great leader. There’s not an equation that tells you how to actually talk with somebody and communicate with somebody.
One of the biggest challenges that I face is reeducating people about what improvisation is. It is simply not comedy. Because of the popularity of television shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway or Curb Your Enthusiasm or Christopher Guest movies, Saturday Night Live, all these great theaters around the country that are so popular right now, improvisation is on everyone's lips.
Improvisation is not comedy. That's a type of improvisation. Improvisation, at its root, is reacting and adapting and communicating. A SWAT team improvises. You're not going to put comedians in a SWAT situation or a SWAT team on an improv stage. Those are two different types of improvisation, just like athletes have to improvise, politicians have to improvise… It comes from great teamwork. It comes from great support. It comes from great suspension of judgment, a great understanding of team members, awareness of environment.
Leaders have to be able to improvise on a daily basis, just simply to connect with each other and communicate with each other. For many people, these simple things, these soft skills, are actually the hard skills because there’s not an equation to be a great leader. There’s not an equation how to actually talk with somebody and communicate with somebody. It’s such an easy tool to support authentic leadership, bringing out the best of yourself. There is not a formula for a great leader. It has to come from you. You have all those X variables. It's got to come from you, authentically.
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd