How to Lead Like Ellen DeGeneres

Negative focus creates negative environments. But, successful leaders build energizing environments.

Your primary influence is the environment you create.”  Peter Senge

Lead like a comedian:

Comedians influence others.

Leadership is influence.

Learn about influence from comedians.



Ellen DeGeneres dances her way up and down the aisles and through the audience, every TV episode. You know it’s coming. Then boom, she’s dancing. Her moves are similar, but not quite the same.

Rituals establish predictability – predictability enables connection.

4 benefits of leadership rituals:

  1. People feel like they belong when they know what’s coming next.
  2. Predictability relieves anxiety.
  3. Established patterns of behavior free minds to concentrate elsewhere.
  4. Leaders who follow
  5. Predictable patterns make you feel trustworthy.

Uppers and downers:

Problems and challenges litter the leadership landscape. Something’s always wrong. That’s leadership. People come to you when things aren’t working.

Offset darkness with uplifting rituals.

Fun is better than grumpy.

Ritual of gratitude:

Make gratitude a ritual. Drop in on direct reports and say, “Thank you.”

  1. Name something they’ve done and say, “Thanks.”
  2. Name a character quality and say, “You’re awesome.”
  3. Explain how they’re making a difference and say, “Keep up the great work.”

7 ritual tips:

  1. Do it *every* day.
  2. Relax and take an extra minute that says, “This exchange matters.”
  3. Establish eye contact.
  4. Smile.
  5. Try it at the end of the day, before they go home. (Every day)
  6. Figure out your exit strategy. You may feel awkward, at first. What line will you use to get out of their office?
  7. Do the same thing every day, but not quite the same.

What positive leadership rituals might you suggest?

What leadership qualities do you see in comedians? In Ellen DeGeneres?

Read Facebook responses to: “The Leadership qualities of Ellen DeGeneres include ________.”