Improvisational Leadership

Improvisational Leadership

Leaders need a special framework and mindset for situations that require them to make decisions in the face of complexity, ambiguity and paradox. Performing Ideas, with its unique background and team of performers/facilitators, is one of the few organisations in the world teaching this exciting new practice of Improvisational Leadership.

The art of the unexpected and the science of the unknown

  • Leaders get years of training in how to develop and execute plans, however, how should they lead when they don’t have a plan?
  • How can you leverage unexpected difficulties to your advantage?
  • What simple framework can we follow when under stress and faced with the unexpected?
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We are trained in the analytical tradition to develop plans and execute them. But life doesn’t always go according to plan - imagine you face a leadership dilemma and don’t know what to do. The pressure is building, the anxiety is paralysing, but you must act. Over the last two decades, some of the most famous schools and institutions working in leadership (MIT, Stanford, UCLA) have looked to the theatre to find ways of helping leaders do so. In particular, they have taken the methodology of improvisation and applied it to leadership training.

Performing Ideas, with its unique background and team of performers/facilitators, is one of the few organisations in the world teaching this exciting new practice of Improvisational Leadership.

Who is this course for?

#1 Leaders

Do you want to explore the roles that intuition, your body and creativity play in leadership?

#2 Managers

Do you have a framework for making rapid spontaneous decisions in complex, ambiguous and paradoxical situations?

#3 Innovators

How can celebrating failure increase the audaciousness and creativity of your team?

The impact on your organisation


Cultivate a culture where there is less fear of failure and more confidence when faced with the unexpected


Increased empathy and understanding of others’ physical and emotional needs


Foster a culture of distributed and flexible leadership


Enhance entrepreneurial spirit and creative thinking

How will participants learn?

Practice in an embodied manner the key principles of Improvisational Leadership.
Exercises in small groups led by experts in improvisation.
Bespoke interactive theatre play developed for your organisation and performed by professional actors.
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All participants will benefit from lifetime access to the complete self-taught course containing videos and readings for further learning. This online course is constantly updated with new materials and contains much more than can be covered in the live version.

Learner Objectives

Learn an embodied leadership practice that will help you lead and make decisions quickly when you have no plan to follow, when the context is messy and complex, and when less conventional methods to problem-solving are required.
Understand the need to be not only good at critical thinking but also creative doing.
Gain the confidence to use improvisation to solve unexpected problems.
Manage the anxiety that arises when you need to lead but don’t know what to do.
Understand how creativity and leadership are embodied skills.


Unforgettable experience with our Stahl colleagues. It was a very insightful and fun session where relationships strengthened.
Laura Willemsen
Group Director Marketing and Sustainability, Stahl
It was really great, unlike anything we have done before, and so effective.
Michael Costello
Group Director of ESG (Environment, Social & Governance), Stahl
Really a game changer this approach on leadership. Highly appreciated!
Henk Lousberg
Group Engineering Manager, Stahl

Tools and Methodologies

Exercises to practice mind-body connection

Forum Theatre

Interactive theatre experience with professional actors

Improvisation exercises

Active listening exercises

Role play

Status games

A peek inside the course

In traditional workshops, even the great ones, participants have forgotten much of what they learned within a few weeks. That’s why we’ve created a stand-alone online version of the workshop that they can access forever post-course. Here is an excerpt from the online version of Improvisational Leadership.
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Track Record

We are proud to be one of only a handful of companies in the world teaching the innovative methodology of improvisational leadership and are probably the only company that has found a way to deliver this highly interactive and physical training online.

Brian designed this course in 2013, drawing inspiration from his years as an acting teacher and theatre director in Ireland and combining this with his later experience designing and teaching leadership programs for IESE and some of the world’s biggest corporate universities.

Since then, we’ve taught this course and presented our tailor-made interactive theatre plays to senior leaders working in BBVA, Allianz, Capgemini, Telefonica and GSK. Over the years, around 1500 executives and directors from all over the world have participated in our workshops on Improvisational Leadership.

Related Courses

Our clients usually ask us to combine this workshop with:

Executive Presence

Learn to look and feel more confident by improving your non-verbal communication. This course introduces techniques used by recognised leaders, public speakers and actors.

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Feedback and Active Listening

This workshop offers attendees the opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence and communication skills, with a particular focus on feedback and active listening.
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Ready to get started?

Tell us a a bit about your situation and we’ll be in touch to discuss how we can help you.

We’ll set up a consultation call to discuss your specific needs and we’ll recommend a plan to jump-start the change you are seeking. 
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