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The Best Leaders Know a Complex World Demands an Improvised Response

Today’s world is a hectic place full of problems to deal with. That’s one way to frame things. 

But Oxford’s Robert Poynton thinks there’s a better angle: The world is full of offers.

Poynton is an associate fellow at Oxford’s Saïd Business School and author of two books—Everything’s an Offer and Do Improvise. He believes the practice of improvisational theater can be useful in the world of business and leadership.

Leaders are not omnipotent heroes who always know exactly what to do next. And no plan survives day one. The key to great leadership then, especially in a world of quick and disruptive change, is setting your team up to be flexible and to think on the fly.

“Seeing a world full of offers means looking at everything as something you can use to create flow—even something that seems to be a problem,” Poynton says. “It’s about leaving behind the fruitless debate about whether things are good or bad and adopting an incredibly practical and constructive stance about how to use what you have.”

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