*The quotes are all from the same article cited below. My thoughts about the application to the work of leadership are interspersed.
In dance, connection is the physical way in which two partners interact to create the shared experience of partner dancing. Think Johnny Castle in “Dirty Dancing” admonishing Baby about her ‘spaghetti arms.’ You can’t dance with someone who has limp arms. Nor can you dance with someone whose arms are rigid and unyielding. You have to find that middle ground. Even more, you have to find a way to match each other to create a mutual support, signaling, and recognition system.
“In order to master the art of really connecting with your partner, the first thing you need to do is get in the ‘zone’. It’s not only about how good your frame is (although that helps) or how advanced you are; it’s about your desire to really sync up with your partner.”
“How can you get better at doing this? When you are asked for a dance you’re not necessarily over-the-moon about, take a step back and ask yourself if the possibility of a great connection is worth re-evaluating your attitude.”
“It’s about your desire to really sync up with your partner.” Such a simple explanation about the complexities of our attitude when we are working with other people.
“…breaking down the anti-touch barrier to make a physically deep and significant contact with another person is the first big stumbling block to achieving connection.
The first step in breaking down this barrier is trusting your partner for that dance. This does not mean you need to trust them to catch you when falling off a bridge, but you do need to trust that they will keep you safe for that dance.”
For our purposes, touch is not literal. Touch is the idea of what it feels like to work with another person. But whether on the dance floor or in an organization the ideas of touch and connection are about trust. Are we safe with this leader? Can we take bad news to them? Can we ask for assistance? Will they support you in trying something new, creative, possibly risky?
“Taking care is about your interaction with the other, and what you can do to give the gift of a great dance to your partner. Whereas vulnerability is understanding your limits and opening to the influence of another, taking care is about finding and honoring your partner’s limits and abilities.”
What does ‘taking care’ look like in your organization? How do you take care of your partners and engage with them in the work?
What does connection look like for you in your organization or community? Does it look different based on position – both yours and others? How are you working to create more connections across your organizations? Connection is an important part of our leadership work. It takes time and effort, but a strong, positive connection is possible. After all,
“The ability to connect is innately human, and it is within each and every one of us. It may be a harder place to find for some of us, and it is OK to push the envelope little by little.”