How to 'Yes And' Turbulence: Developing Resilience for Contemporary Leadership Atomium Structure at Brussels, Belgium 

Register Online

When: Thursday, October 12| 09:00 - 17:00 | FULL DAY
Where: Studio 315 - SQUARE
Ticket Price: ILA members - $110 | non-members - $147
Thank you to Indiana Tech – Ph.D. Program in Global Leadership for being a Bronze Sponsor & sponsoring this event!


How do we cultivate resilience and learn to navigate turbulence, disruption, and unpredictability? Improvisation and emotional intelligence are critical components of resilience—and this session aims to map out the intersections through a day of hands-on practice.

Applying improvisation's core principles to leadership offers us a model for building our capacity to discern hidden elements of possibility, hope, and promise in even the most turbulent circumstances. When applied beyond artistic settings, improvisation also encourages the deliberate practice of emotionally intelligent leadership (EIL), including the capacities of emotional self-perception, authenticity, flexibility, optimism, initiative, and empathy.

This full day session will build on a series of participatory activities that can be enacted daily to increase resilience and the practice of leadership. We will create a dynamic space for play and reflection to deepen our understanding of adaptability and engagement—particularly when it's not possible to be certain.

The session will culminate in a 2-hour field experiment in the surrounding neighborhood of Brussels, where participants will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and tools shared in the morning. We'll step outside as observers and sponges, adopting an improvisor's mindset to help guide our unscripted journey. Upon return, we'll share stories and insights to wrap up our learning together.

For more information, download the long description.

  Who Should Attend?

Anyone curious about how improvisation and emotionally intelligent leadership prepare us to be engaged observers, respond honestly and intentionally in the moment, and proceed collectively without a script.

What Will Attendees Gain?

Attendees will:

  • Gain an increased understanding of applied improvisation as a skill set for developing and practicing emotionally intelligent leadership.
  • Learn and practice ways in which they can adapt to the unexpected, even bounce back from setbacks.
  • Build their capacity to both cope and thrive in unknown circumstances—that is, how to proceed without a script

Track: Leadership Education

Workshop Leaders & Presenters

Chris Esparza Marcy Levy Shankman Ralf Wetzel
Chris Esparza
University of Oregon
Marcy Levy Shankman
Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Ralf Wetzel
Vlerick Business School


Chris Esparza currently works at the University of Oregon's Holden Center for Leadership & Community Engagement. He was first introduced to theatrical improvisation over 25 years ago. However, over the last few years, Chris has been infusing principals of improvisation into his leadership development curriculum, facilitating workshops and trainings on adaptability, ambiguity, change, creativity, group development, social power and status, and equity issues. Outside of work, Chris distracts himself by running in scenic locales, eating his favorite comfort foods, and occasionally participating in the world's largest treasure hunt (geocaching).



Marcy Levy Shankman is currently working for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as leadership coach and strategist for the executive leadership team. She ran a community leadership program for a non-governmental organization, taught graduate and undergraduate students, and continues to provide consulting services in the areas of leadership and organizational development. Marcy co-authored Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students, now in its second edition, and has facilitated learning experiences for students, professionals, educators, and business executives for the last 20 years. She is a proud mom of two children and actively gives her time to causes in her community.



Ralf Wetzel began his career as an electrician. He joined Vlerick Business School as a Professor of Organization and Management after extensive experience in organization studies and leading a joint research and consulting group. His career path led him from Germany to the UK, Switzerland and Belgium. He applies art-based elements from improvisation theatre, dance and surrealism for inquiring organization behaviour, change management, leadership & societal dynamics. He works as a leadership development coach. He loves to turn research into art-based forms like fiction novels and improv shows for non-academics. Additionally, he loves to release his inner clown wherever he can.