I noticed something interesting a few weeks ago.
I have been trying to learn a choreography in tango, to be able to lead through a whole tune. So Daniel at Tangokompaniet has been working with me on this same choreography for a long long time (btw – if I EVER hear Carlos Di Sarli’s “Pobre yo” again it will be way too soon).
After finishing learning the choreography before summer, I recently tried it out with Anna. That’s when I noticed the interesting thing. The way I tried to lead the exact same choreography to the exact same song – just didn’t work.
Well – it was not a complete disaster. But several things that I thought I sent very clear signals about, were actually not at all as clear any longer.
So – with the help of Anna – I adjusted those signals so that they were clear to her too. Tiny details that translated it into signals that just worked better between her and me.
And then we changed a few small things about a circular thing, and made some more thorough changes to the ending. For some reason the ending felt rushed, and we skipped a thing and prolonged another. And then the whole choreography felt good again. Still basically the same choreography, but minor changes here and there were needed to create the same flow with a different partner.
Now – being a sucker for reflection – I of course had to analyze the shit out of this. Which I have done. The most obvious thing is that when I coach managers I often meet people who try to lead ALL co-workers the same way, and fail. Or I meet managers who move up the ladder (or sideways) and suddenly notice that the tools of management/leadership that has propelled them forward suddenly are ineffective. Not useless, just less effective than they used to be. The flow or the edge is gone.
Notice my “change process description” above (in italics). There is a whole bunch of clear learning points for me: on how and when to use feedback, on the need to tweak some things and totally revamp other things, on how I define flow and the good tango/leadership.
I could just as easily have decided that She Must Adapt To MY Choreography, but then we would have lost the flow, and the whole process would have felt less motivating for her to perform well.
Yet – many managers do just that. They decide that “THIS is my management style, and it WORKS”. And then people around them follow. But they do not show their true talent – nor do they feel motivated. For that – a manager must listen and adapt.
To be a clear and decisive leader – one has to do a whole lot of translating what has always worked before into what will work here and with these people.
Learning a choreography with one person, and then switching to another person – is a very interesting and humbling exercise in leadership. It really DOES take two to tango.
(On a completely different note: I just saw that Tangokompaniet is starting its autumn beginners’ classes in the next few weeks. If you practice there you are most welcome to bring your own leadership reflections here!