In a popular comedy show, the improvisational (improv) performers are challenged with acting out a scene to the best of their ability, on the spot (i.e. “at the drop of a hat”). If you think about it, life can sometimes feel like a series of improv skits. Not just because of the ridiculous events that occasionally occur in our lives, but because we form opinions, make decisions, and react based on past experiences that happen during the course of everyday events.

For example: you know what time to set the alarm in order to get to work on time. You know that the freeway is congested at a certain time of day, so you use surface streets. Or you remember that you should have tea bags on hand for your morning meeting because the client doesn’t drink coffee. Superficial as they may seem, these behaviors are shaped by past experience and built over time by positive, and sometimes negative, results.

Whether you realize it or not, you lead others by gathering data from your past experiences, and by witnessing the good and bad examples of those around you. I am a firm believer in leading by example, and I often share anecdotes about my first boss when mentoring young professionals. I tell them stories of his bad behaviors and how I learned how not to conduct myself in the world of business.

Leading by example is not only important when coaching young team members, but many times “old dogs” can benefit from your “new tricks.” I am fortunate to be reminded of this in different ways, through varying leadership models offered by the many talented thought leaders that Weaving Influence represents. Oftentimes, their books are targeted at professionals on many different levels, but they also speak to individuals who are willing to continue to grow their personal knowledge and who are willing to learn how to best use their skills for success, regardless of age or experience. Putting these tools to work allows a leader to draw from new experiences and realize different (hopefully better) outcomes than in the past.

When you are next in a challenging business situation, how will you role play your scene? Will you draw on past experience and simply react – or will you take a moment to rally your skills, gather your thoughts, and guide the situation toward a positive result?

Either way, your audience (subordinates and co-workers) is watching. Will you rise as a shining star, or bomb miserably?

The stage is set: finish on a high note. You’ll be remembered and valued for it.


Image credit: Arpad Nagy-Bagoly