Tango is a beautiful dance that can be watched with fascination and delight. But if you look beyond the art form and read between the lines, you realize that it is more than a dance. It relies on partnership and communication. It is a rich metaphor of leader/follower relationships in the corporate world.
For the uninitiated, Tango is a form of dance that has its origins in Argentina and Uruguay. One dancer who is usually the man is the leader and the second dancer who is usually the woman is the follower. The whole dance is a pattern of leading and following. It can lead to the greatest heights of expression in a non-hierarchical relationship between the leader and the follower with excellent communication, understanding, co-operation, intuition, and versatility. Just doing the steps is not dancing. The magic in this art form rests on other things.
What are the leadership lessons that can be learnt from Tango? What is the connection between it and leadership roles? Here are some pointers.
Inhabit your own body
Notice what goes on in your body in an unconscious way and become more mindful. Inhabit your own body rather than copying someone else. Gaining self-awareness is crucial and important. Each of us is unique and come with our own different styles of working. Celebrate this and use your strengths to the maximum.
Engage with your core
While dancing to the Tango, when you engage with your core, you bring about a balance, poise and the ability to move rhythmically and responsively, controlling your own movement and direction. Typically we are lazy and do not use our core at all. In fact, many of us do not know what it is or where it is. It takes a lot of practice and hard work to change that.
After becoming aware of your body and your core, you are now ready to connect with your partner. It would not be a stiff, formal hold, but an embrace of connectedness, to enable a flow of communication between the two of you. Both the leader and the follower should be responsive and involved and not be a dead weight off the other. Each of them should be fully present, aware and responsible and have diverse but equal roles, to present a smooth and seamless dance and work towards common objectives.
Unlike other dances, Tango is very intuitive and improvised, moment to moment and there are no set step patterns. It relies on the leader communicating intentions to the follower and the follower responding. Understanding another point of view is very essential. In the corporate world, the environment is very dynamic and objectives change according to the needs of the market. In these situations, the leader should be able to communicate the goals, the intention and the energy very effectively and clearly to the team or followers
So what does Tango teach us about leadership? The metaphor leads us to consider all kinds of issues like the relationship between leaders and their teams, looking beyond formulaic patterns and easy solutions, without a clear leader the follower cannot shine, intuition goes hand in hand with communication and finding the deeper connection within ourselves rather than mimicking appearances.