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Leadership Lessons from The London Comedy Store

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Time to Read: 1 min 22 secs (If you read as fast as Rosalind, our CEO)

Time to Watch: 31 min 9 secs – Contains some swearing, and some comedy

On Monday 2 December I was a member of the improvisation team at The London Comedy Store, as part of Funny Business: An evening of comedy in aid of Help the Hospices run by the London Business Forum.

Improvisation is exactly that – the audience shouts out ideas and we make it up on the spot, and ideally it is funny!

Three Top Leadership Lessons from 31 mins 9 secs of frantic fear…and fun

1. As a team, be there for each other

In Naked Leader we share with teams how to never say anything behind each other’s backs that they would not say to their faces. My experience at The Comedy Store took me one stage further – to totally trust each other, by knowing we will always be there for each other. This worked in two ways – if I had no idea what to say or do, I knew one of the team would help me, and if I saw one of the others in trouble, I jumped in – even if I had no idea what would happen next, which brings me to…

2. Trust your own gut feel

Your gut feel is a combination of everything you have ever experienced, learned and known. To work at maximum effect you must clear your mind, in effect switch off your conscious mind. As we never knew what the audience would request, or each other would say and do, it was key that we each totally trusted our own gut feel, and that whatever that gut feel came up with, was perfect. Do that in your team, in meetings and in your organisation, and when you do…

3. Make Offers

This was a massive learning for me – and the principal guideline we were given by our leader, Neil, in advance. Rather than close down conversations:

e.g. “Good morning Doctor”

“I am not a doctor”

When an offer is made (you are a doctor) go for it. Imagine the power if we did this in our teams. Instead of looking to be “right”, for a dispute or disagreement, we would make offers to each other that take the conversation forward.

Thank you to the king of improvisation Neil Mullarkey, to Marc Lewis and Steve McDermott, and to everyone who came and supported Help the Hospices – especially the Naked Leader turnout, and our client partners Volvo Trucks, Ford Retail and Molten.

Your turn – shout out a subject for an NL week in the comments below

With my love and best wishes


Next week, my letter to Father Christmas, and on 30th How to Make 2014 your Best Year Ever.

9 Responses to Leadership Lessons from The London Comedy Store

  1. Sometimes, going with your gut instinct is the best thing to do, as feeling a decision is often better than thinking about what you want to do.
    The comedy store is great btw.

  2. Thanks to Gavin Preston for this text – “I love your Nkd Ldr week re Comedy Store event. It sounds that it was a great experience. Good lessons. Well written blog.”

  3. haven’t got time to look at the clip but love the post, as ever, David. Where would we be without your weekly snippets?!
    Great stuff.

  4. Love the doctor line and clearing your mind before taking on a task is vital.
    Start from scratch, and you can deliver, but not with a cluttered mind.

  5. Love carrying on the conversation. I’m going to do that at Christmas. Speak to me famility lots and ask open questions.

  6. I loved the 30 minute film. Thinking on what David has written, I think more often the natural right answer does come to us but then some bit of ‘corporate programming’ prevents us from actually saying it for fear that we may somehow get it wrong. (The sketch involving the four emotions – orgasmic, disappointment, jubilation and shame – seems to then adequately sum up the four emotions that many leaders must go through when they are not as natural as they otherwise have been!)

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