Strategy

17th October 2013

Strictly by Ian Kinnery

We are at that time of year when my Saturday nights are about being forced to watch Strictly Come Dancing. It is important to keep the domestic peace every so often!

Whilst I do not particularly enjoy the programme there are some very important lessons for all of us business people which are being played out every week.

The competitors are all trying to learn and perfect a new skill, that of dancing.

I had the privilege, as part of my studies once, to spend some time trying to learn some new and different skills; those of a stand up comedian, an entertainer and a professional dancer for instance. What my colleagues and I learned was that it was one thing to learn the techniques. This usually took time, and some skill, often physical skill and dexterity but that even when we had learned those skills we still weren’t necessarily able to execute at a good level.

Why?

Well we had learned what to do, but in our heads we weren’t dancers, entertainers or comics.

You see the results we get depend upon both who we are and what we do.

Adlai E. Stevenson once said: “It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse” if you don’t think you are a leader it is difficult to act like a leader.

If you don’t think you are a dancer it is difficult to act like a dancer.

Somewhere on the strictly journey we see the celebrities start to act like dancers as they start to believe they are or could be dancers. The more this happens the more they start to develop competence in the act of dancing, so the “who we are” and “what we do” start to combine to make rapid and positive change, or work against each other to keep us stuck.

How we view ourselves dictates how we perform.

I remember a client describing himself as “just a contractor”. Which was interesting, I thought he was a business owner, a managing director and so I asked him if he was “just a contractor” who was the managing director, did his business have one? It was a difficult question for him to answer. So if you are doing the honourable thing and watching strictly with your partner listen out for tell tale “gives” in the competitor’s language.

There is a difference between a competitor saying “I am not a dancer!”, which means he/she does not believe they are a dancer(and never can be), and another who says “I am not dancing very well” which implies it is merely a set of moves not yet mastered. There is a huge difference. The first is an identity statement and therefore much more immovable than the second which is an assessment of behaviour, and therefore can be improved.

How does this relate to business? Ask yourself, when you are “doing” the role of business leader are you also “being” the business leader?