Leadership and clowning!

Imagine a big room in the attic of a rural hotel in the Swiss mountains. There are 8 people, 2 facilitators (clown/ consultants) and 6 participants diverse in  terms of age and country of origin. This is a leadership lab run by AZck! Learning and Development in conjunction with Tom Greder.

I went to this programme as a participant really unsure what leadership can learn from clowning but open to finding out. The journey over the 3 days brought us out of our comfort zones (with our permission) and helped us each to address areas of development we wanted to explore. I have never before seen a programme so tailored to the needs of the individual.

March 2014 106

Like many leadership programmes, we explored the areas of self-awareness and our impact on others. However  in contrast to the usual programmes, we really entered unknown territory. Our journey mirrored some of the challenges of life outside the lab: leading in ambiguous situations, with limited resources and having to improvise in the spotlight (although in this case, there really was a spotlight!)

We often learn a lot from times when we are stretched… and this was one of those occasions – a very special one indeed! We learnt and laughed so much!

So I ask myself the question in hindsight what has leadership got to learn from clowning? Surprisingly for me, quite a lot! So many of the regular leadership themes emerged in the act of clowning: presence, vulnerability, connection with others, leadership and followership, adaptability and so much more. But instead of reading it from a textbook or listening to theory, we were in a laboratory, and we ourselves were the subject of our own experiments. I can’t think of a more engaging way to learn.

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