It sounds counterintuitive. Leadership is based on science and dance is an art form. Taking a closer look, some of the science applies to dance and leaders will tell you there is an artistic quality to good business practices.
For non-dancers who may be reading, dancing can be defined as a lead/follow activity. In a large group, such as line dancing or a flash mob, there may be several leaders with coordinated movements. In partner dancing such as waltz or swing, there is one leader and one follower. Traditional workplace structures such as a manager and employees or a team leader and team members create a similar definition.
Communication is key between leaders and followers to create beautiful dance. The leader must clearly communicate directional changes on the dance floor. There are accepted conventions and “language” of dance, for example, Zumba instructors use hand motions while dancing to communicate. Team meetings with defined agendas, 1-1 manager/employee meetings, and consciousness on the part of the leader to provide information create a cohesive workplace.
Blind adherence by the follower to strictly follow the lead creates robotic movement. A good dance lead does not force movement but instead invites the follow into the step, allowing room for the follow to display expression, or as it known in Argentine Tango, decoration. The same is true in other forms of leadership as well. Micromanagement does not allow development of the employees. Leading with a philosophy that each person brings their natural gift to the workplace allows high performers the freedom to achieve their best work.
Each person brings their level of development and practice to the dance floor and workplace. At a social dance event, there is usually at least one person who is new to dance. They are nervous about dancing with more experienced dancers. Dancing with someone who smiles and encourages them to enjoy the moment builds confidence. Dancing with someone who criticizes lack of skill is not enjoyable and can intimidate. The consummate, highly experienced dancer meets their partner’s level and the less skilled dancer becomes better by dancing with them. Think about your employees. Are they supported to learn new skills or are they criticized for trying something new?
In both dance and the workplace, certain basics are required – a good attitude, work ethics and habits. A congenial atmosphere goes a long way to success in both. Trust is required. High-performing teams trust each other and their leader. Dancers must trust their partner. A famous dance instructor once said, “There are only two types of dance – good and bad.” Perhaps that is true of leaders as well.