By Keith Coats
You are in the position of leadership that you are (or have the responsibilities you have) because you were the best out of the many doing the ‘dance’ at the time of your selection. You were ‘dancing better than he rest’, got noticed and were promoted.
The problem is that the greater the leadership responsibility, the more you feel the need to keep dancing. Too many leaders are spending too much time on the dance floor when where they need to be is on the balcony.
When the dance is changing (as it is like never before) it is from the balcony that you can get the necessary perspective to see the change and what needs changing; when you are on the dance floor your perspective is limited to your immediate surroundings. You need to get off the dance floor.
So how can we go about getting off the dance floor?
Should you think that you (and your team) are spending too much time on the dance floor, a simply way to test this assumption would be to review your last 6 months of leadership agendas. Take a look at the items making up that agenda and ask yourself, ‘how many are dance floor items and how many are balcony items?’ You might well find that you and your team are spending too much time on managing the dance rather than being on the balcony.
Before you discuss this with others (your team) first start with trying to develop the balcony habit at a personal level. Here would be three helpful questions to assist you in this undertaking:
Tip: It might be helpful to answer questions 1 & 3 before tackling question 2
The ‘dance floor / balcony’ analogy comes from Ron Heifetz, Alexander Grashow & Marty Linsky’s outstanding book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership (Harvard Business Press). Their book outlines the Adaptive Leadership model, which in my opinion, is the most robust and well suited leadership framework for leading in a changing world. They also provide practical tools and exercises in applying the model. It is well worth reading…and doing!