OK, I May Not Be a Comedian, But…

I’ve always admired great comedians, and not just because they make me laugh. Masterful comedy is a lot like great leadership.

Here are some of the shared attributes of great comedians and great leaders:

  • They know that their work is personal — they speak their own truth from their unique perspective, not generic viewpoints that feel flat.
  • They draw you in with great storytelling that includes intentionally shared details, and also can improvise in the moment, fully attuned to the situation.
  • They get to the point — clear punch lines, clear take-aways, no fluff.
  • They surprise and challenge you, and sometimes make things a bit uncomfortable –They know that boredom is poison.
  • They show courage. They choose a viewpoint, take some risks, and escalate their stance without worrying about not being enough or what not to say.
  • Some of their best “bits” are around questions no one else asks and that they cannot answer on their own.
  • Finally, they don’t take themselves too seriously. That makes the rest of us feel safe being ourselves. And it makes us want to be around them.

I love watching and listening to great comedians and improvisers. Since I’m not talented enough to be a pro myself, I’ll keep channeling what I see and learn into my coaching work with leaders.