One of the greatest skills an effective leader can have is the ability to improvise. The skill of improvisation is based on the ability to accept that the world is not based in absolutes, but in ingenuity and creativity. Effective leaders strive to find opportunity in even the most negative situations, and use their improvisational skills to create innovative solutions.
Some individuals are naturally inclined to improvise, while others have to actively work to learn to think outside the box. Luckily, for those who struggle with improvising, there are several key strategies that can be used to build improvising skills that will carry over from the workplace into all aspects of life. In order to learn to improvise, leaders must learn to embrace the chaos and trust in their ability to think through even the most challenging scenarios.
The first key strategy to effective improvisation is to always work to keep momentum. Instead of allowing a problem to bring all work progress to a halt, an effective leader will look for quick solutions that will get projects moving forward. The solution that returns a project to productive status does not have to be fancy or unusual. In fact, ideas that are considered common or dull are often the most effective.
A hallmark of strong leadership is the ability to admit when one is in over their head or unable to solve a problem and this positive attitude can make all of the difference. Assembling a team of creative thinkers to tackle a problem is sure to bring about innovative solutions that lead to long-lasting solutions. These teams should consist of at least one expert in the topic being discussed, and at least one novice who is only vaguely familiar with the subject. It may seem strange to have a novice on board, but these individuals often have a fresh perspective that can lead to ideas an expert would not have considered.
Once a team is assembled, effective leaders should not just sit back and supervise the discussion, but actively participate in the brainstorming process. A fun strategy to implement in these improvised meetings is to move around the table and have each team member state the first thing idea that comes to mind. A team leader can be appointed to keep a list of the thoughts thrown out, and once the momentum of brainstorming has begun to wane, a more serious discussion can begin to discover the best method to continue with.
Effective leaders often understand that some employees will always find it difficult to be creative and to improvise in the workplace. If the entire team seems to be struggling to come up with a workable solution to a problem, moving the meeting out of the office can go a long way to improving creativity. Moving the meeting to a favourite local restaurant or even outdoors on a day with good weather can get the creative juices flowing for everybody.
Of course, the most effective leaders who seem to be able to improvise at the drop of a hat built their skills over years of practice. Actively practicing coming up with creative solutions to everyday problems can help to build improvisational skills and allow leaders to calmly assemble their creative team and get their projects back on track.
Senior Trainer & Consultant