Leadership Lessons from the Dance Floor

Image courtesy of Lauren Frock

Have you ever tried something new that changed the way you think about things?

About a year ago, a friend invited me to go swing dancing. I always try to be open to new things, and this was no exception. Sure enough, I liked it so much that I started teaching classes a few months later. I’ve found that swing dancing offers some valuable lessons in leadership:

1. Less is more.
Many people get caught up with trying to accomplish big tasks and forget about the basics. Leaders don’t have to be flashy to perform their job effectively.

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of solid communication.
Traditional swing dancing involves a leader and a follower. Some leaders come in ready to impress with a lot of really complex moves, but it takes two to swing dance. A leader is only as good as the follower. If a leader cannot effectively communicate with the follower, the two cannot perform in sync.

3. Listen.
Almost every style of dance is synchronized to music. A leader must be able to follow the beat and transition smoothly as the music takes unexpected turns, helping the followers adjust.

4. Know your surroundings.
A common rule of thumb is to check your surroundings before spinning your partner. If the leader fails to properly monitor surroundings, the follower might end up crashing into other dancers. A good leader actively monitors the environment so that they know when it’s safe to venture out and when it’s better to veer in another direction.

5. Know how to recover.
Chances are, you aren’t perfect. Every leader will make mistakes. A good leader knows how to improvise and recover when the follower misunderstands a cue or goes astray. An effective leader can turn a mistake into something beautiful.

6. Take a chance.
A good leader has courage to try even though they might not be the best or most experienced on the best dance floor. Top leaders are willing to put themselves out there to learn something new and have fun in the process.

Passion is the driving force behind every remarkable leader. Although many leaders are praised for their ideas, skills or accomplishments, the most important trait is their fervor.

Martha Graham, a pioneer of American modern dance, once said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”

Can you relate these leadership lessons to something you’re passionate about? Share in the comments below.

Lauren Frock is a rising senior at The University of North Texas studying strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in music. Frock will serve as a second-year president of her PRSSA Chapter this year and is passionate about drinking coffee, writing, reading, traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter @frockl or read her blog here: http://laurenfrock.wordpress.com/

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