A Leadership Lesson from Stand-up Comedies

I enjoy watching stand-up comedies. People like Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Mike Birbiglia, Trevor Noah, Ryan Hamilton, John Mulaney comes to mind. I’ve been watching the shows to learn English (great teachers, I know) and pick up some useful dialog patterns to use during sales calls.

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I think there’s something magical about stand-up comedies. There’s a great balancing act of psychology how comedians connect with the audience. The comedian captures the audience, puts them in a situation, then does something completely unexpected or extreme that gives catharsis to the audience, letting them play a role that will not likely happen in their own life, things they will not likely do or say. And it creates a seemingly spontaneous reaction in a form of a laughter to so many diverse people in the room, which has been carefully planned and perfected by the comedian.

We all know this, because even though comedies are hard to create, are easy to enjoy.

One pattern I found to be really insightful, is that great comedies are usually based on real-life experiences and vulnerability. Being extremely honest about (or exaggerating) one’s thoughts that people would normally not share publicly, and that act of opening up, becoming vulnerable in front of others, and self-deprecation with a sense of humility and realism is what makes some of the pieces really great.

And the way comedians connect with their audiences carries a valuable lesson for leadership.

The candor, without a defensiveness filled with negative emotions, opening up and becoming vulnerable in front of your team, a bit of self-deprecation with a healthy dose of strong self-esteem are great ways to connect with the people you are working with.

This act shows that you are willing to admit your mistakes, that you are not perfect, and that you are willing to learn and listen to others, because you are real and you are humble. You are vulnerable therefore you can grow.

This is how I’ve been accurately rationalizing my hours (okay, more like days) spent on Netflix.

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