Mastering the dance of management

By Mark LeBusque. Published at Oct 12, 2020, in Features

My audiences who love me don’t mind me dancing with two left feet – Sunny Deal

You’ve just landed your dream role and for the first time, you have the privilege of managing a group of human beings.

You have learned a few technical dance moves to arrive at this point and managed not to trip over your two left feet at times when the music seemed to change without warning.

Technical work mastery, versus the management of humans, is a whole new level of dance moves.

To be successful here, you are expected to be nimble enough on your feet to master the ‘dance of management’ without so much as a training session or a book of ‘101 management dance moves’.

The secret to successfully managing a transition into a human management role is to quickly master the dance of management. The great managers have more than one dance move in their repertoire. They are nimble, adaptable, agile, and self-aware enough to quickly switch from a two-step to the tango in order to move with the beat of rapid change. They also trip over their two left feet at times but get up, dust themselves off, and dance again.

It’s time to get your dancing shoes on.

I refer to this as ‘situational management’. Having awareness in the moment and change your management style in an instant to move with the beat of change that is happening right in front of you.

In my first book, ‘Being Human’, I share six management styles that I’ve witnessed over 20years in the business world. I’ve outlined in more detail four of these that will give you the dance moves to successfully transition into a management role, or even add some more dance moves if you’ve been there for a while:

Superhuman – Short-term 24/7 bursts – there are times when its “go, go, go” and you need to put on your cape and just perform superhuman acts. I’m sure you will feel this or have felt this once you were a manager. There didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. You are working long hours, making quick decisions on limited information, and just keeping up with the minute by minute change. These management dance moves are critical in times of uncertainty when short deadlines become even shorter, and your very survival is linked to your ability to grind out hour after hour, day after day.

Human – Emotionally invested and human focus first – we humans need to make sense, feel connected, and feel a sense of belonging, particularly so in times of change. This is one of the most critical dance moves to master. When working from home became the ‘new normal’, we all got exposed to the human side of those we work with. We saw employees as humans at home, learned about their pets and kids, and regularly checked in and asked "How are you feeling?.” This will be as important to do on the way back to the office. It’s is a dance we must put at the top of our list.

Robot – Absolutely follow the rulebook – early on in your management journey, there will be a need to roll out some dance moves so robotic in nature that others may get a little frustrated with your lack of dance moves. Remember that it takes time to master some groovy moves and this is where the dance of the robotic manager is important. Following protocols, processes, and asking repetitive questions are moves that aren’t overly interesting but will set the platform for future nimbleness. Hold your nerve here. At times we need to follow the rulebook in order to stay alive. This is one of those times.

Tyrant – Sometimes management isn’t a democracy – it’s no good being a little “both ways” as you move into this new management role. Sometimes you have to be unpopular and rule with an iron fist. This dance will be especially important in the early days of being a manager. Give an inch and some will take a mile. This should be a short dance to set the scene for what’s expected. Don’t dance here for too long or the employees will live in fear.

It’s time to take the lead as you move into the first or next phase of your management career dance.

The important thing is to learn a few management dance moves and trot them out at the appropriate time. Even if you have two left feet at times!

Get your dancing shoes on.

What are you waiting for?

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