I love to dance! That’s my passion and it would take a lot to stop me from getting to my lesson. Not only do I enjoy the process of learning, but it’s also a good way of reducing stress and having fun. But there are also benefits that can be transferred into your leadership role, as I have done.
I read a great article recently about a lady called Patrice Tanaka who has written a book “Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner and Smater CEO”. I’ve summarised her lessons from the article, but also added a few additional ones that have made a difference to me during my career.
- Leading and Partnering. In dancing a woman follows, never leads – this helps you to learn when to be an active follower in business and relinquish control.
- Learning to Let Go. Don’t hold back or your balance can be thrown – push past your comfort zone and go for it.
- Wearing the Right Costume. Dress for the occasion – be yourself, express yourself and enjoy what you wear, as your confidence shines through.
- Being Fully Present. To dance well you have no choice but to be fully present – very important to be fully present during workplace meetings, discussions etc as you and your team will perform at their best.
- Finding Time For You. Finding time out of your busy schedule for yourself, as well as an outlet for stress, allows you to become more focussed in the office.
- Trading Perfection for the Pursuit of Pleasure. A journey of continual improvement – each failure is a step towards getting better, tiny mistakes should not overlook the big picture, you can take pleasure in each accomplishment
And a few additional ones of mine:
- Discovering Your Unique Way of Learning. In dance, my style seems to be to see a demonstration, try it, visualise it overnight, try it again, more visualisation – and then usually I’ve got it (surprisingly!) and can improve on it. You’ll achieve new responsibilities quicker if you use your preferred method of learning.
- Communicating Your Needs. If you’re being taught a new step and the way it’s being explained doesn’t work for you, you will find it difficult to pick up (Foxtrot was my bug bear and I had previously refused to learn it as I just didn’t get it!). I also feel sorry for my dance instructor as I make up my own descriptions of dance moves, and he’s adopted my language for me – which is quite amusing at times!! In business, we assume people know and understand us, but they aren’t mind readers and everyone benefits from your self-awareness and you taking the initiative to explain your needs.
- It Takes Time. After you’ve learnt a new step you often wonder how you couldn’t do it before – as a leader you need to remember that what you know now was a mystery or felt strange/awkward to you once. New responsibilities will feel like this to others, so it’s important to support them during any delegation process and help them learn from their mistakes.
- Honest Feedback. Sincerity in your praise is essential, as people will quickly see through false comments. It’s also important to understand what others need from you. (Eg, up until 2 weeks before my first competition my instructor had told me I could win. When he stopped I assumed he no longer thought I could, so I lost my confidence. Actually, he was trying to reduce the pressure on me! I’ve learnt about my own self confidence since then, but it’s also a useful reminder to adapt your style accordingly for others).
- It’s Never Too Late to Learn Something New – and transfer your skills from one situation to another.
It’s obviously not just dancing that could help you learn about your leadership style and communication skills. For example, team sports like football and hockey demonstrate diversity in a group, encouraging different skills and abilities, learning when to try something new, learning from mistakes, and that a leader does not have to be able to do all the roles but does need to be able to delegate, motivate and get the best from every individual.
And it would be an entire other blog for me to explain what I learnt about myself from having a go at the flying trapeze!!!
So what is your favourite hobby and how can you take what you learn about yourself into the workplace?
A WORKSHOP is available which helps leaders to develop their skills by utilising the strengths they have gained from their hobbies. With management resignations doubling since 2010, issues retaining managers up 32%, and nearly 60% of organisations struggling to recruit new managers (according to a CMI survey), finding a way to engage your talented managers is ever more important. This Workshop helps leaders to take their passion for a hobby and transfer it into a passion for leadership.