Leadership Events with a Difference: Argentine Tango as a metaphor for relating and leading in a way that is better suited to our complex and ever-shifting world
Bennie Bartels and Susanne Burgstaller offer eye-openers in the actual and physical practice of leading and following, generating more awareness of your own patterns, habits and their side effects, next to experiencing alternative or new (behavioural) possibilities.
Getting out of your head back into your body, into your “sensed self”, carries many advantages: Physical interaction lowers interpersonal barriers and promotes more honest and full encounters and exchanges of ideas. A physical experience is a knowledge you always carry with you and have direct access to – it becomes yours!
This leads to a better grounding of learning, a quasi “embodiment” of ideas and theories, and to a “backfeeding” of experiences into concrete actions.
Generating more awareness of our actions is a way of updating ourselves, as our computers regularly ask for. The miscommunication between who we are and who we think we are can be a major cause of stress and frustration which makes us set our goals wrongly and expect outcomes that are not realistic. To make a new experience through physical action where it can’t be denied is like installing this experience into our own system, so it becomes second nature to us.
A selection of potential learnings from our workshops:
- Dealing with mutual reliance in leader-follower situations: jointly create a sense of direction, how to take the follower in an elegant and participating way there where you want them. - get to your goals – through another person!
- Push your follower – upwards! – Independence and support as goals for better cooperation and connection.
- Get a sense when to switch leadership and followership
- Establish and keep a connection
- How can the follower add weight and value to the leadership proposition?
- Leading a group: Swarm Intelligence or Swarm Stupidity? – When is a group more clever or more stupid than the individuals in it?
- Play with balance and stability: When do you need to get someone out of their comfort zone? How to „de-stabilize“ in a safe way?
- Play with „patterns and improvisations“: When does a pattern distract from the goal and how does it add value?
- Learning to see the potentials and positive sides of tension and conflict. To experience how to talk and listen at the same time
- Getting a sense of how to trust that ‘vibrating’ moment of the now, even if your intellect can’t catch up with it.
- Creating awareness and learning to observe yourself without interfering or judgement.
- Building trust in your own knowledge and potential and how to act from that place.
About the “tango with leadership” philosophy:
It stands for playfulness and for experimentation, where the question counts more than the answer, where listening is as important as speaking, where a goal has meaning in being the organiser and initiator of a process, where trust is an organising principle that assumes that everybody tries their best, but may make mistakes. These are the conditions for real learning and growth, for making optimal use of the workforce, its talents, knowledge and potentials.
This philosophy comes from a place where we are looking to overcome conventional borders of interaction, and to create both informal and respectful behaviour without trespassing the limits that we and others feel safe with. It aims to create a safe place where people are willing to and interested in exchanging valuable information, without having to generate bureaucratic hierarchies built on fear and losing face.
Why Argentine Tango?
The “lead and follow”-principle is common to most kinds of social dance. However, it is often confused with the “order and obey”-principle. In no other dance is this misunderstanding so glaringly obvious as in Argentine Tango, which is a dance of improvising together. It can best be compared to two people having a conversation – an improvisational act that we perform successfully every day. To start a conversation, someone usually begins by proposing a topic or asking a question (the “leader”) and the other one joins in (the “follower”). However, in the course of any interesting conversation it usually happens that both partners alternatively propose topics, ask questions, respond and listen – thus both leading and following alternatively.
The leading role in tango comprises for example setting a direction, steering, being responsible for the movements of both and navigating the couple safely around the dance floor. The following role is to trust the invitation to move, to listen closely, to be open to impulse and suggestion, to react, and to fully and beautifully interpret the leader´s suggestion. Following is a very active role, and once the follower has understood the direction and speed proposed by the leader, s/he “leads” the couple by her movement. Both leader and follower need to have an understanding of and a drop of the other´s role in their blood in order to create a beautiful “dance conversation”.
In Tango understanding and learning that leading and following are equally important roles to achieve the best possible outcome and to create a long-lasting base for cooperation is vital from the beginning. That is why it lends itself so well as a metaphor for many kinds of human interactions.
What our sessions ask for from the participants:
- It asks for an ability to take things apart, investigate, and later put them back together again into a new functional whole.
- It is a wake-up call from thinking in clichés and using pure linear thought.
- It makes you question what really matters – especially in leadership situations.
- It proposes creativity and thinking out of the box, opening up your way of thinking.
- It builds on our daily physical interactions and how they connect to your intellectual knowledge and leadership theories.
- It shows you the difference in what you THINK you do, what you ACTUALLY do, and how to fill in the gaps.
We work with large and small groups. Sometimes leaders only come, sometimes leaders and their team members come together. We offer very interactive sessions, and also help you reflect on your experiences and transfer your learning to your daily lives in the office.
We offer half and full day sessions, as well as 2-3 day leadership courses on topics such as Tango and Agile and Adaptive Leadership, Positive Relations & Climate, High Performance, Talent & Potential, Solution Focus, etc.
Contact us for an offer at [email protected]