Personally, I am learning how to be a creative practitioner, in preparation for my third career as a writer, to which I plan to transfer full time in 2016. So, ideas and techniques which link coaching and leadership theory to creative practice are of particular interest and for that reason alone I couldn't miss this month's EMCC Yorkshire and Humber meeting which promised insights into coaching practice through dancing.
Thanks to Kate Pinder for introducing us to Fides Matzdorf and Ramen Sen, brilliant amateur Ballroom and Latin dancers whose day jobs are as a Research Fellow in a Business School and in IT consultancy. Their personal understanding of organisations and leadership are evident in the parallels they draw from dancing.
What did I learn? First of all I learned to dance, which was amazing since a few years ago, I spent two terms at evening classes trying to achieve what Fides and Ramen taught me in less than five minutes. With the co-operation of my brilliant partner Corinne, I learned how to connect physically hip to hip, and to maintain a connection which allows leader and follower to move confidently to music without learning any steps. How great it felt to glide around a dancefloor, swaying to the music, connected by rhythm.
And how great it feels, if you've had that experience, to work in an organisation where you feel in tune with the culture and values, confident in supportive leadership, and free to express yourself within explicit parameters that everybody understands. How great it also feels to coach an individual or a team in a relationship of mutual trust, where leadership is a question, and following is a response which leads to insight.
The insights I had in this incredibly enjoyable and fun session were:
- Leadership has to be based on trust.
- Trust is based on supporting people through mistakes and learning from them.
- Clarity of rules and techniques is essential to prevent people from getting it wrong - for example the ballroom convention is to move anti-clockwise. It works if people follow the rules.
- Within the rules, individual expression is encouraged - feeling the rhythm of the music, and responding to one another as partners allows you to be creative.
- Both leader and follower have responsibilities, they may be different, but they are both essential for a good outcome.
- Collaboration toward a shared objective is the key to success.
- Satisfaction , fun, a sense of achievement - these are the rewards that make you want to continue.
For those of you taking a break this Easter, have a great time, for others, have a great time too!