Leadership Workshop at JMU

We are pleased to pass along a professional development opportunity that may be of interest to you!

This is not a VCA/VASC event but it is certainly relevant to those of us in leadership positions.

Leadership, IMPROV and All that Jazz 

December 5, 2014

8:30 to 4:00

Montpelier Room
East Campus Dining Hall
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807


Go to http://sites.jmu.edu/JMULeadershipAcademy/ for more information and to register!

Improv is based on being present, attentive and open to the ideas presented without a predetermined response.  You must collaborate, build on one another’s contribution, and allow the outcome to change as you go.

This year the James Madison University Leadership Academy will explore elements of IMPROV and leadership in health and human services.  We will hear from leaders in training and supervision who use improv in their daily interactions.  We will be sharing knowledge and strategies about how to work creatively, collaboratively, and in an attuned manner with supervisees, clients, and colleagues.

Presentation Descriptions

Working Without a Script: Applying Improv Principles to Leadership
Lennie Echterling and Anne Stewart

The first rule of improvisation is to accept. As a participant in either a skit or in a clinical or supervisory encounter, your responsibility is to accept (not condone or approve) what another actor may say or do. In order for an improvisation to be successful, the participants involved must work together in a process of co-creation. We describe this and other rules of improv, and how they can help us to become better leaders and colleagues.  We will lead participants in exercises that are designed to help us to abandon effort and find flow in our encounters with others.


  • List 3 guidelines of improv.
  • Name 3 ways improv principles correspond with leadership principles.
  • Describe 4 exercises to use to ‘abandon effort and find flow.’


Mirror Mirror on the Wall: The Role of Self Perception in Leadership
Donielle C.D. Janow

How many times do we stare at ourselves in the mirror deciding if we “look the part?” What does the image we see tell us, how does it affect our behavior, our emotions, and others’ responses to us.  In this workshop we will explore the roles of self-perception in leadership and how the introduction of something new can change you. Improv requires you to be fully attentive, accept what is offered, consider it (at least momentarily) and build upon it.  Being able to do this successfully can take you off the planned track and not derail you. With a brief exercise, we will experience how using improv in leadership not only changes the outcome of a situation, but can change you.


  • Experience how changing your self-image affects your behavior.
  • Describe how improv in daily interactions can change self-perception.


You are Music: Leadership and Jazz
Ken Critchfield

Drawing on his experience as a supervisor and psychotherapist for “difficult” cases (i.e., involving high stakes, chronicity, suicidality, and personality pathology) — as well as his experience as a jazz bassist and experimental musician — Ken will lead us in an exploration of the why’s and how to’s for accessing creativity, especially for those aspects of our work when stakes are high and old ways of responding no longer apply. Methods of musical improvisation and responsive attunement will be illustrated, used, and experienced by attendees to expand capacity and widen available responses for leadership roles.


  • To experience first-hand parallels between jazz improvisation and ways of relating and creating and “being” in leadership roles.
  • Use insights from this experience to identify stuck points and known how to generate a more lively coherence in supervisory relationships.
  • Use insights to enhance creativity and thriving in others generally, through responsive attunement.

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