Last month we blogged about dancing as a leadership skill – of the importance of finding the things that excite, delight, and energize us so that we can be our most creative, innovative, and inventive selves, and of being able to flex and change and move with whatever comes our way.

As soon as the post was published, one of my clients sent me a short note. “How do we as leaders enable and encourage our folks to dance?” he asked.

A good question. A great one in fact.

Because if dancing can have so many benefits for leaders, surely dancing is also essential for those we lead, and for leaders at all levels of an organization (and of life). But how do we allow those around us to dance? How do we encourage and invite dancing?

There are a few first steps you can take to promote dancing all around you:

  • Model dancing yourself – it’s called “the shadow of the leader.” If your employees (or co-workers, or family) don’t see you dancing, they will most likely feel less comfortable dancing themselves.
  • Talk about your reason for dancing – acknowledge your dancing, and call out why you’re dancing. What benefits do you receive? What benefits do the team or organization experience?
  • Allow other types of dance – dancing is a personal thing. We can’t expect others to dance the same dance we dance, or in the same way. Just as when we delegate and we have to let others take their own path to the desired result, we have to let others dance to their own beat, or with their own style.
  • Create space for dancing – it can feel as if there is no room for play, for invention, or for dancing. You have to make sure your folks have space away from the pressure, or permission to step away from the pressure, so that they can dance.
  • Reward dancing – well, maybe not literally. But make sure to call out when people dance – when they’re engaged and passionate, or when they flex and flow with whatever comes – so that dancing gets reinforced. And catches on.

It can seem counterintuitive to dance at work, and to encourage dancing at work. But we’ve found that some of the best ideas, efforts, and times emerge when a dancing attitude is allowed and encouraged. So, again, dance yourself. And invite those around you to dance as well.

How do you encourage others to dance?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

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