Project Management

Teach me to dance, will you?

From the Servant Leadership: Serve to Be Great Blog
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This blog is about leadership as it applies to projects and project management, but also as it applies to society in general. The bloggers here manage projects and lead teams in both business and volunteer environments, and are all graduates of PMI's Leadership Institute Master Class. We hope to bring insight into the challenges we all experience in our projects and in our day-to-day work, providing helpful tidbits to inspire you to take action to improve—whether in your personal life, your business/work life or on your projects. Read, comment and share your experiences as we share ours. Let’s make the pie bigger! Grab a slice!

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Catalin Dogaru
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Have you seen the last scene of “Zorba the Greek” movie?

If not, spoiler alert: two grown men, after witnessing the biggest failure of their only project, start to… dance.  Actually, to be more precise, the boss (who invested all his money in the project that failed) asks his one and only employee (who was more like a project manager) to teach him to dance. No reproaches, no arguments, no unnecessary discussions – they just start dancing, with the boss following the moves of the employee. The dance is their way to connect in order to be able to express their feelings and to discuss objectively and freely about what just happened.

Dancing has several characteristics that facilitate an invisible powerful bonding between people that makes for a beautiful performance. Two of these characteristics really amaze me:

  1. When two individuals are dancing, it is common practice for one to lead while the other one follows. However, the latter is actually willing to follow. Moreover, she/he expects to be lead from the moment she/he engaged in this “task” (dancing).

  2. We all know that non-verbal communication is the highest percentage in every interaction we have, transmitting more information than any other form of communication. In fact, dancing increases this percentage. When we dance, we speak less and we move more. We need, at the same time, to be careful of our moves and, most importantly, to be tuned in to our partner’s moves. In dancing, we “listen” more in order to be sure that our performance is the best sowe both succeed -  whether  we are the leader of the follower.

Of course, these are not the only bonding and performance characteristics of dancing. We need the right music, the right environment, the right partner and so on. However, as soon as we have the two mentioned above, more than 50% of the “job” is done. The dance becomes interesting, our performance is a good one and, most importantly, we enjoy it while connecting with our dance partner.

I think leadership should follow the same “recipe”. It should favour listening over speaking, willingness over forcing/pushing, authority over power. And, most importantly, it should create the right connection between the leader and the follower, a connection that allows both to express freely their feelings, concerns and ideas in order for both of them to grow and achieve success. Do you know of a leadership approach that can do all of this?

Spoiler alert (again): Servant Leadership is the “dance” we can perform every day, whether we are the leader or the follower.

OK - put on your ballroom best - ...1,2,3...Let’s dance!

Posted by Catalin Dogaru on: January 09, 2017 03:55 AM | Permalink

Comments (14)

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Thanks very much, Catalin for sharing! Dancing is a perfect analogy for servant leadership! Indeed listening is more than the verbal cues. Having an open mind and willingness to follow and willingness to be led are as important as willingness to serve and lead. It's a give and take and a very fluid relationship. Loved your "when we dance, we speak less and move more" as actions speak louder than words. When the "team" (regardless of the size or scale) is focusing on achieving the shared objective (breaking down the power struggle barrier), awareness, empathy and the willingness to do whatever it takes will go a long way and often with big smiles!

Great post! Thanks

Great post, thank you for sharing!

Thank you Suzan. Great comment. I loved the "big smiles" ending :).

Thank you Karthik, thank you Maria.

I am now curious to see the movie. Sounds great PM lessons to be explored & unearthed.

Thanks for sharing Catalin

Such a great way to think about leadership.

A great and fun post! One item I would suggest is servant leadership is influencing by serving and individuals not only serve each other but align to a shared purpose. This purpose must be the organization's goals. Otherwise, one pitfall is when everyone is achieving their own goals, without regard to the organization's mission.

A simple way to make a powerful point.

Nice Post! Thanks.

A great leader understand that they are leading to serve others.

Dear Castalin
Interesting reflection on the theme: "Teach me to dance, will you?"
Thanks for sharing

Very interesting what you wrote about leadership:
"should create the right connection between the leader and the follower, a connection that allows both to express freely their feelings, concerns and ideas in order to both grow and achieve success"

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