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improv leadership email
From: E.J. Dyksen
Date: Fri 5/4/2007 2:53 AM
Subject: IMPROV leadership

I am sending this email to the entire team in the interest of transparency and openness in this matter. I think everyone should read it.

Hello soon-to-be-juniors of IMPROV!

In trying to decide about leadership next year, we need to know who of you might be interested. I’ve outlined a good portion of the position and its requirements below. Please reply (just to me, not to the list) and tell me if you’re interested or not. Deadline: Saturday at noon.

Disclaimer: I sincerely apologize if any of this comes across as either pompous or hypocritical. I know there are many things I didn’t do right or could have done better this year. The following are ideal qualities. Many of these things I know because I have made mistakes. I try my best to take my own advice. 😄

Responsibilities of IMPROV leadership:

1. Know your improv

First and foremost, you need to be a leader in the craft of improv. You need to be an authoritative source for improv knowledge for the team. This doesn’t mean you’re the only authority, but the team will look to you for leadership in this area. This does not mean you have to be the best improviser on the team (in my experience the best players weren’t leaders), but your abilities and knowledge ought to be respected by the team. If they are not, your mandate as a leader will suffer.

2. Know your team

You have to be active in knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and personalities of the members of the team. In building set lists and planning practices, you need to do so with the team in mind. It is especially important that the leaders set the example in welcoming the new members of the team and giving them the support they need to succeed. Also, you will often be the point-man (or point-woman) in solving conflicts when they arise between team members. Finally, you will need to find some new leadership for the team before you graduate (like I’m doing now).

3. Strong leadership

You need to be able to effectively lead a group of people with short attention spans, sizable egos, and vast untapped talent. This is tricky and harder than it looks. This often means swallowing your own pride to do what’s best for the group. You need to be able to take criticism well, as you will receive it from the team. You can never go on a power trip. Improvisers in particular can sense this and will resent it. Your leadership must be through discussion and by example.

4. Organization

As the head of the business side of IMPROV, you need to be able to run it like one. This means keeping track of all shows, talking to clients and potential clients, promoting the team, managing the team finances, organizing team trips and activities, and interfacing the with many members of the staff at Calvin (SDO, Senate, OCCE, etc). You must be good at answering email in a timely manner. Also, you must be good at writing concise, professional emails (this is as concise as I could make this one, I promise!). You must keep a calendar for the team. This all will take up a non-insignificant amount your time.

If you think you’re a good fit for these things, let me know, and we’ll put your name in the hat. If you have any comments as to why you would make a good leader, feel free to include that as well. It’s a pretty big hat.

Unless anyone on the team objects to this process…

After having received all the “applications,” Dave and I will consult to decide who is best fit for the job, based on the requirements above. It’s that simple. We will try to come to a decision ASAP.

If any members of the team have any particular input or questions to direct our way about this decision or this process, please email me or give me a call.

Thanks a lot!
E.J.

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