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Following the Follower with Andy Eninger

Andy Eninger is an improviser, writer, facilitator and dog dad.

To offer your own advice, call Zak @ 844-935-BEST


ZAK: Is there a principal that you could share? Something for those of us who haven't taken an improv class but something we might try in our everyday life, taken from improv?

ANDY: The improv philosophy that is serving me the most right now is this sense of following the follower. This sense of looking up and looking out and seeing what somebody else is doing whether that's the audience. Whether that's the person that you're performing with or the musician that you're improvising with and following where they're going and the magic of then they start to follow you and you follow them and they're following you and who's actually leading? It's almost like, have you ever seen a murmuration of birds when they're flying around. You're like which one's leading? They're all leading. They're all following each other. There's this magical sense when everyone's attuned to other people, you can go in this direction together. Even if that direction changes and changes again.

ZAK: I'm thinking about concretizing this. I'm in a Zoom now, right, with a dozen of my colleagues. How do I look to follow the follower in a context like that?

ANDY: I think it's really powerful for the person that might be leading the meeting to notice, 'Oh, I think people are shutting down. Lemme follow what's going on there by maybe asking or maybe it's time for me to be quiet and see if someone steps up.' I think that's one of the hardest things for someone who's a real driving personality who's leading a meeting is to shut up and leave a space and let someone step in and speak and I think it's not intuitive for leaders to surrender.

ZAK: Is there a check-in that people who are natural leaders, like something that they can do just to catch themselves leading and not following the follower?

ANDY: I think for a leader to take on this sense of following the follower, probably the best thing that they can do is ask themself, 'what does this person need?' Often, we're trying to apply our perspective and view of the world to everyone else. It's like, 'here's what you need to do' rather than finding out and listening to understand what another person actually needs. Asking those open-ended questions and I think that it goes counter to how many leaders think about themselves. 'Oh, I have to be smart. I need to have the right advice. I have to know what to do.' And there's so many situations where we simply can't know what's right for this person to do in the moment. We may have the vision in mind where we want the scene or the job, the project to head. But what this person needs in the moment can probably only come from that person. It's not going to come from us. I think that's what a leader is surrendering

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