What Tango Taught Me About Leadership

Ahhhhh, the Tango. Not the fast kind, with legs flying. The tango I know is the slower, social dance. It’s connected. Warm. Elegant. And definitely a led dance.

Tango milonguero hails Argentina. Buenos Aires is its Mecca.

It’s walk, a walk of leadership. Done as well as the leader can. Followed as well as the follower can. Both ways, it’s a a dance of intention. Toward a purpose. To create something special together. With intention and a gesture, the lead invites in a way the follower is likely to ‘hear’. And adjusts when the follower isn’t clear. This is mutual respect and embodied presence. Counterpointed by grace. And whimsey.

tango-flash-mob

Leaders and followers make subtle adjustments and know it’s the connection that makes art possible. They walk as art, in close embrace.

Inspiring leaders like Malala Yousafzai and Dr. King developed this. Malala went from an unknown school girl in the Swat Valley of Pakistan to known worldwide and a nobel laureate. Nobel laureate Dr King found his boyhood of racial humiliation he and his neighbors endured hopeless. At twelve he attempted suicide. They each found a way to have their voices heard.

You can too.

After leading technology teams for over 15 years, I’d developed skills. And yet I knew there was something missing. I saw leaders who had a special sense for leading. The Germans call it fingerspitzengefühl — fingertip feel. An intuitive flair or instinct. Situational awareness. The ability to respond appropriately. And tactfully.  A knack I couldn’t quite put my finger on. You can imagine my frustration.

The good news is, leaders don’t fall from the sky. They develop. Some early in life. Some like me develop later. Later makes the accomplishment all the sweeter.

Tango was both a joy and terrifying. I’d grown up gangly, awkward, analytical. Embodied elegance didn’t seem possible, and frankly scared me. So of course, I stayed..

“Freedom lives on the other side of fear.”
– Dorothy Kuhn

But knowing the joy of being? Developing a voice? Getting in your bones the essence of trusted leadership? It moves us to know connected freedom. Toward a purpose, something unknown that pulls you forward. Let’s break it down.

In embodied leadership..

  1. Both set an intention, leader and follower
  2. The leader has three dance ‘partners’, the dance floor, the music and the follower
  3. Leaders offer open space for followers to walk into
  4. Followers rests into the leader, walking into space as it opens up
  5. Leaders know that some openings a follower will see, some not. Leaders do not judge, they adjust. They offer another way.

This gives a profound understanding that power is power over oneself. That we each are equally human. That judgment and blame ruin connection, assuring poorer outcomes. This reveals personal responsibility and community responsibility as two sides of a prized coin. That ethical behavior stems from moral bearing. That care, protection and responsibility are how you show the morality you hold.

One of my mentors, the great Tim Ferriss, uses learning and accomplishment as fuel for internal work. With each accomplishment, he banishes another fear, feels more personally powerful. Has more fun. (Look at that smile!) It’s a great way to springboard into the next best version of yourself. The Bard was right…

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, the valiant taste of death but once.” – William Shakespeare

What are you ready to learn? What confidence can you enjoy while being more authentically YOU?  If you’re wondering if a mentor is right for you, click here to apply for a Complimentary Strategy Session with Dorothy or one of her hand-picked coaches.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Robin Disotell

    High Dorothy!
    Enjoyed the dance-grin. Wondering if you do any internet strategy sessions. If so, I’d be interested in chatting with YOU.

    Let’s Tango, Robin

    Reply

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