Roblynn Hunnisett, Certified Coach, MBA is a coach at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. Her focus is Life Coaching, Financial Coaching, Business Coaching, Leadership Coaching, and Retirement Coaching. Learn more about Roblynn here.

The Dance of Management

When I turned fifty, I learned to Latin dance, and I was surprised by how dance made me a better leader. I have been managing and running companies for over 30 years and life coaching for 15 years. I was amazed how dancing could change how I looked at people and organizations.

There are three elements to make anyone successful, I am constantly learning new things to improve and grow within these realms.

  1. Love People

  2. Love Sales

  3. Love Numbers

How do you improve on all three, the answer comes through dance.

Love people comes through emotional intelligence with the ability to understand, to manage and to effectively express your feelings. It means to successfully navigate and engage with others. This is an important trait for all relationships, especially when you are managing others. Remember people send off more non-verbal communication, than verbal information. To “read others” is an important supervising trait.


Understanding and being sensitive to your employees and your clients’ feelings and emotional needs is a key part of emotional intelligence. This empathy produces a deeper connection and mutual respect.

Empathy in dance and management has three components:

Sensing the person’s comfort

Pay attention to your partner’s comfort level, tension and mood through their body language and responsiveness. In management, this means active listening and watching body language to complete the conversation.

Adjusting movements

Modify your dance style and movements to accommodate your partner’s skill level and preferences. In management, we modify our body language to mirror those within the conversation and adjust our voice to the appropriateness of the conversation.

Emotional connection

Creating an emotional connection through the dance, understanding, and responding to the feelings that the music and movement evoke in a partner. Managing well requires the connection of communication. How are you communicating with your employees? Your clients? Yourself?

Conflict Resolution

Oxford Encyclopedia defines it: Conflict is defined as incompatible activities: one’s person’s actions interfere, obstruct, or in some way get in the way of another’s actions. To revolve means to manage conflicts more constructively through accommodation, compromising and problem-solving. Recognizing and respecting each others’ perspectives can lead to healthier ways of resolving disagreements on the dancefloor and in the boardroom.

Non-verbal communication

In dance, it is all about non-verbal cues, given through the music to navigate and negotiate movement, leading and following smoothly without verbal instruction. In the workplace negotiating is with more than one person, it takes at least two people. When I learned to negotiate smoothly on the dancefloor, I realized I had more patience working with adults. Just as frustration can come to the edge in the workplace, it can also show up on the dancefloor in the form of a “rough lead.” Being patient with yourself and others will make non-verbal communication stand a little taller in the space you occupy.

Resolving missteps with understanding

Addressing missteps or mismatches in rhythm with patience and understanding, and working together to get back into sync is the same as managing to resolve conflicts through constructive dialogue. This has been one of my ongoing challenges both in dance and in work. I have more patience with others than I do with myself. Too much overthinking occurs on both the dancefloor and the boardroom.

Synchronizing movements

Actively working to align your movements with your partners, ensuring that both of you move in harmony, even if means changing your own rhythm or pattern. When I started dancing, I would watch the advanced dancers moving around the floor like birds flying in formation. As managers, we sometimes forget that things which come easily to us require time to learn from others. We must take ourselves out of current mode of thinking to create a harmonious understanding.

Vicarious Adjustment

Adjusting how we move and communicate to accommodate each other’s comfort and capabilities, shows empathy and consideration. This works in all aspects of life.

How do we get back to loving people, sales, and numbers? Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, these all apply to dance and the workplace. Depending on you, your methods may be different from someone else’s way.

Loving people means being open to who others are and who you become in their presence. To quote Plato,

“at the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”

Loving sales within the dance world implies a dance product like shoes, outfits, or tickets, meanwhile, I think of sales in dance as time. This means time in training with someone, yourself, or a group. Sales are an investment in yourself as a dancer. Depending on your industry, sales are from either a product, a service or both.

If as a manager, sales are not your strength, make sure you have people on your team who excel in this area to help the continued growth of your company. Sales is all about developing relationships which in the end increases your economic outcome.

Loving numbers is not something I have always loved and when I was writing my final accounting exam as an undergraduate, I was close to tears. I ran right to the end as we were doing both manual and digital accounting, and you need to get 80% in each to pass the program. Everything worked out and I walked on stage for graduation but still, my love of numbers did not exist. I understood numbers, I just did not have a definitive use for them. However, when you have a business, you need to get close to them so you can read financial reports, make marketing and business planning forecasts and other day-to-day operational decisions. Until I finished my MBA, my love of numbers was slow and consistent. Although, I work effectively with numbers, my love for people and sales far outrides the “number train.” Hence why I am not an accountant but have profound respect for them.

In dance, I am similar to my numbers. In Salsa, there is 1,2,3 _ 5,6,7_, the 4 and 8 are silent. It took me a full hour to grasp this concept. In general, numbers are harder to grasp at times, but numbers never lie.

A financial statement tells what is working and what is not working in a business, just like music will tell you what numbers you need to make your dance come alive on the floor.

If you would like your management skills to dance into the next stage of either a stronger manager (task-oriented) or moving towards leadership (motivating and people-centred), please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to inspire and motivate you to be your personal best!

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” –Peter Drucker

Roblynn Hunnisett, Certified Coach, MBA is a coach at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. Her focus is Life Coaching, Financial Coaching, Business Coaching, Leadership Coaching, and Retirement Coaching. Learn more about Roblynn here.

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