The Leadership Dance - Proteus Leadership | Leadership Article
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The Leadership Dance

Everyone loves to dance; it’s just that some people can and some people can’t!

Although it’s fun watching people who can’t dance, try, it is simply exquisite when you see a person who is trained and has mastered the art of dance, perform.

What I have observed about elite performers is that many of the success principles they observe are similar to those required in our own roles and if we are prepared to follow these principles and practices and not continually look for short cuts, then there is a possibility that we too can share a love for what we do, and also become exquisite.

As the cast of Swan Lake enters the stage you cannot help but be blown away by their grace, elegance and beauty. As they begin their performance and do things with their bodies that are seemingly impossible for the mere mortal to comprehend, you realise that this is their life and their passion. Their beauty, skill and elegance take you on a journey and to another place in time.

In fact, just watching them perform is enough for most of us to pull a hamstring. You quickly realise that what you are watching is indeed a disciplined art form!

But what is it that sets them apart from us, the audience, and how can we capture these gems to enhance our own performance on the leadership stage?

1. The Passion

Did you know that passion grows? It is not something we have before we start a new venture. That is simply called interest. It develops as we gain a love for what we do. But without it we will always be frustrated and will never achieve the heights of success that we could achieve with passion.

But you can’t force passion. You become passionate about something, or you don’t. One thing I do know is that when you see a passionate person, everything about them is infectious, because it comes from within.

They exude energy, love, vibrancy and want to share what they have with everyone around. This is passion and without it we will never be exquisite.

So, find your passion, develop it and then share it with everyone around you.

2. The Beauty

Although to some it might seem shallow; to be successful you must look good. I am not talking necessarily about external beauty; I am talking about taking pride in who you are and what you do.

It’s about standing out from the crowd and looking like you actually respect the position you have been given.

Did you know that when we meet people for the first time, including clients, they make a judgment of us within seconds, because that is all the information they have?

It is the same with organisations. So many companies have great products and ideas but never take the time to improve their websites or their marketing, causing people to form wrong opinions about them.

True performers and true leaders do everything they can to ensure that what they have to offer is as pleasing to the eye as possible and represents the brand accordingly.

Yes, how we look and how our organisations look, is very important to success!

3. The Precision

One wrong move and the performance falls apart. Can you imagine the prima ballerina being dropped or tripping over mid performance? It would be a disaster.

So, for anything to be exceptional it requires precision and unity. Every part of the organisation needs to be in sync with the other, because no matter how good each of us are individually, the leadership dance requires every member of the team to think about more than just themselves, and how they will combine with others to achieve the required results.

This is why we work so hard on creating a great culture. It is not just so that we feel good, but it is essential that people interact positively and trust and respect those that they work with. You cannot fake it when you go on stage!

4. The Discipline

Every day, for six hours, the dancers train. Every meal is perfectly planned. Sleep is seen as part of their routine. They know that they have been called to do this and therefore they must in turn respect themselves and their art. What about the leadership dance? Do we discipline ourselves so that we develop and set ourselves up for success, or do we just plan things on the run? The beauty and precision that we see on stage is only because of the discipline backstage. So the same applies to our leadership dance.

What are you reading? What are you learning? How are you helping to build those around you? So many questions, all of which require an answer.

5. The Pain

Success hurts, and nothing worth achieving is gained without a level of either physical or emotional pain – or maybe both.

When you recommence exercise after a period of time away, it seems that every muscle in your body hurts – and they do. But you understand that they are just responding to the shock that you have put them under. As you continue to exercise they become stronger and more flexible and the pain disappears.

I am sure you have read stories about the physical pain that ballerinas go through to be able to dance in their shoes. But they do it because they know that they cannot perfect their art if they don’t. Yes, success will hurt!

Do you have the passion to work through the pain, or do you give up just before you are about to break through?

6. The Celebration

As the curtain goes down, great celebration commences. That feeling of doing the very best you can. That feeling of giving a performance that thrilled the audience is almost incomparable. What is the point of putting ourselves through everything we do if we cannot stand back, celebrate and be proud of what we achieved.

It is a vital part of success and is the thing that spurs us on to do it again. So, celebrate your small successes because they are heading you towards that perfect performance.

And it all starts again

Nothing we do, or want to do is a one-off event. You are only as good as your last performance and that is all that counts in the minds of those who are observing. To be exceptional and to continue to dance the leadership dance, we must grow and learn every single day of our lives.

Yes, when the performance is over and we are proud of what we have achieved and have celebrated, then it all starts again. We then move towards building what we have already achieved into something even better.

It is whether or not we see what we do as a chore, or a privilege, that will determine our longevity and the heights that we achieve in our lives. There is no barrier in life that holds us back that is bigger than ourselves – but we have control over that barrier and we can determine how big that barrier becomes.

The passion, the beauty, the precision, the discipline, the pain and the celebration of the leadership dance are all ours to experience, but each of them must be in sync and given the respect that they deserve.

When we do this, we then understand what the leadership dance really is and how every one of us has the ability to be exquisite.

By Des Penny
CEO and Founder of Proteus Enterprises Pty Ltd


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”

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