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The Improvised Leader



The Improvised Leader
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Like an improv show, companies are unscripted and start with nothing. Everyone is figuring out as they go.

Whether they realize it or not, leaders are improv comedians, often with worse senses of humor 🙂 Great business leaders and great improvisers adapt to change, build trust among teams, communicate clearly, and make decisions with limited information.

Considering the similarities, there are many things improv comedy can teach leaders. During this interactive session, we’ll do improv games and exercises, popularized by theatres that have trained world-famous comedians like Tina Fey and Steven Colbert, to help leaders strengthen leadership skills. This session covers the core principles and foundations for using improv comedy techniques and exercises to improve leadership, team effectiveness, and communication.

We invite participants to learn and practice framework techniques and exercises, improving important leadership and team skills (self-awareness, communication, presentation, confidence, collaboration, sales, hiring, creativity, storytelling, quick thinking, decision making, handling uncertainty, developing and practicing empathy) while having fun and getting to know each other.

This improv session replaces podiums, tables, and desks with group activities and exercises that get people to practice new skills as opposed to just listening to someone talk about them. In addition to developing important skills, improv is so much fun! Includes reflection and retrospectives to reinforce improved behaviors and strengthened skillsets, and post-session digital resources including exercises and detailed ways to apply learnings.

Get a sneak peek at what you will learn in this class in our instructor’s How Improv Can Improve Your Leadership and Life TED Talk.

Note: This is an interactive session, which will require participants to be on their feet for part of the time.

improv for leadership


After this course, students will leave with:

  • Improved leadership skills, including, but not limited to the ability to make decisions with limited information, communication skills, self-awareness, emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Knowledge about how to apply improvisational principles to their leadership practice
  • Ideas for how to develop and inspire leaders, with fun and laughter
  • Confidence in their leadership abilities
  • Less fear
  • A way to handle changing environments and the changing learning needs of others
  • A strengthened ability to think quickly
  • Exercises and games they can play with their teams to share their ways of practicing leadership
  • A huge smile on their face!

Course Instructor: Mary Lemmer

Mary started her first company at age 14 and since has been working with teams and leaders as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and executive and consultant.

Mary’s experience as an entrepreneur, investor, executive and improv comedian inspired her to start IMPROVE, using improv comedy techniques to help leaders with communication, emotional intelligence, personal development and growth. She has worked with leaders and teams through multiple stages of high-growth and has helped dozens of companies and executives at Fortune 500 companies, startups, and top universities. She is the author of “Straight from the Investor’s Mouth” and gave a TED talk about using improv comedy to improve leadership skills.

Mary is a graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and studied improv comedy at The Second City and the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Student Profile

This session is targeted at managers and leaders inside the company who want to develop their own leadership skills, as well as walk away with the tools and methodologies to develop leaders in their teams and companies. Roles include:

  • Teachers/Coaches
  • Speakers/Presenters
  • Agile trainers and trainers
  • Anyone who needs to involve a team, audience, or other group of people!


There are no prerequisites to attend this course.

Course Materials

Each student will receive a copy of the course documentation prepared by Netmind and Mary.


Engaging and interactive face-to-face course. Our instructors teach all course materials using the demonstrative method; the participants learn new concepts through exercises and real application practices.


There isn’t an official certification associated with this course. However, students will earn 7 credit hours for their attendance.


A certificate of attendance will be issued to students who attend the course for at least 75% of the duration.

Course Outline

The course is highly interactive and involves participants interacting with one another.

  1. IMPROVE Foundations
    1. Core 4 Principles
    2. Fire the Judge
    3. Leadership Toolkit
    4. Objective Observations
    5. Warm Up Exercises
  2. Leadership: Self Awareness & Empathy
    1. Emotional Awareness
    2. Building Empathy
    3. Intro to Scenes
  3. Leadership: Adaptability
    1. Adaptable Leadership
    2. Leadership Scenes
  4. Team: Communication & Collaboration
  5. Bringing it all together


IMPROVE uses improv comedy techniques to build important business, leadership, and life skills. It was created by Mary Lemmer, a longtime entrepreneur, investor, contributor at fast-growing successful companies, and improv comedian.

Our methodology uses improv games and exercises, popularized by Saturday Night Live, The Second City, and Whose Line Is It Anyway, with business frameworks and other research-based techniques to foster important leadership and team effectiveness skills including creativity, communication, trust, confidence, resilience, problem-solving, quick thinking, all while having fun and laughing!

Our work has been featured in Forbes, and we have led workshops for individuals, the smallest of startups, some of the top accelerators in the world, Fortune 500 companies, and top universities.

We have worked with introverts to extroverts, engineers, artists, marketers, HR executives, C-level executives, managers, individual contributors, designers, and everyone in between. Improv is for everyone, and has something for everyone, from the shyest to most outgoing of people. We create a safe environment for everyone to learn and thrive.

Public Classes

Currently, we don't have any public sessions of this course scheduled. Please let us know if you are interested in adding a session.

See Public Class Schedule

Course Details


1 day

Delivery Mode

Virtual, Face-to-Face

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