I’ve been invited once again to teach my Business Communication and Team Dynamics course at Schulich Business School (York University). This time, it’s for incoming Master of Management students. (As an aside, I offer customized versions of this course in-house for a variety of organizations if, say, your organization might be able to benefit from improving its communication and team dynamics.) I was reminded of a great quote from management guru Peter Drucker that I use in one of my sessions: “The great task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.” What an amazing thought this is. Rather than the conventional obsession with attempting to eliminate weaknesses, make them irrelevant instead by building on, and aligning your strengths.
This is great advice for leaders in dance—and followers as well. Of course, it’s important to continue to improve one’s technique, one’s style, connection, timing, repertoire, and so forth. This is among the reasons Salsaholics Anonymous exists! We help dancers from beginners through high intermediate improve on all these aspects. But, I do run into people who avoid social dancing because of their self-perceived weaknesses. They might not be good at one thing or another. They may feel they don’t have a sufficient number of “moves.” They often say, “I’ll start going out to socials when I’ve improved my on weaknesses and deficiencies.” The irony is, of course, that by not involving yourself in a wide variety of dance situations out in the wild, the likelihood that you will improve sufficiently is slim indeed.
Instead, think of the “great task” suggested by Peter Drucker: align your strengths in ways that make the weaknesses irrelevant. If you have some dance skills that you do extremely well – however limited they may be – align them with your partner’s great moves. Together, you’ll have an enjoyable time for the duration of a dance or two, and effectively, your weaknesses will become irrelevant. And whatever you do, please do not apologize for those absent skills. I cannot tell you how many times a follower says to me, “I’m sorry. I’m not a very good dancer,” as I lead her to the dance floor. And nine times out of ten, we have a great dance together. Why? Because we aligned our collective strengths and rendered the weaknesses and whatever perceived deficiencies there might be, completely irrelevant. As Drucker reminds us, that is indeed the great task of leadership, be it in a corporate environment, or when we…
See you on the dance floor,