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Demanding Followers, Empowered Leaders: Dance As An “Embodied Metaphor” For Leader-Follower-Ship



In this paper, we explore how leadership and followership are relational, mutually constructed and mutually enabled. Using dancesport as metaphor and medium, we focus on the embodied, corporeal aspects and dynamics of leading and following, relating them to lead/follow roles and tasks of people in organizations. In a mainly autoethnographic exploration of the lived experiences of people in leader-follower-relationships, we use the concept of embodied cognition as a basis and argue that dance can provide a vehicle for immediate, implicit “insights” and even “aha effects” through sensory, bodily experiences.
Volume 5
Issue 1 Dance, Choreography and
Pages 114 - 130
Demanding Followers,
Empowered Leaders: Dance As
An “Embodied Metaphor” For
Fides Matzdorf
Sheffield Hallam University,
Ramen Sen
Health & Social Care Information Centre, NHS, Leeds,
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Recommended Citation
Matzdorf, Fides and Sen, Ramen (2015) "Demanding Followers, Empowered Leaders: Dance As An
“Embodied Metaphor” For Leader-Follower-Ship," Organizational Aesthetics: Vol. 5: Iss. 1,
Available at:
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1): 114-130
© The Author(s) 2016
Demanding Followers, Empowered Leaders:
Dance As An “Embodied Metaphor” For
Fides Matzdorf
Sheffield Business School
Ramen Sen
Health and Social Care Information Centre, NHS, Leeds
In this paper, we explore how leadership and followership are relational, mutually constructed
and mutually enabled. Using dancesport as metaphor and medium, we focus on the
embodied, corporeal aspects and dynamics of leading and following, relating them to
lead/follow roles and tasks of people in organizations. In a mainly autoethnographic
exploration of the lived experiences of people in leader-follower-relationships, we use the
concept of embodied cognition as a basis and argue that dance can provide a vehicle for
immediate, implicitinsightsand evenaha effectsthrough sensory, bodily experiences.
Keywords: Leadership; followership; art-based leadership development; dance;
embodiment; embodied cognition; experiential learning; autoethnography.
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1) 115
Demanding Followers, Empowered Leaders: Dance As An “Embodied
Metaphor” For Leader-Follower-Ship
In this paper, we reflect on our leadership/followership experience from dancesport
(competitive ballroom dancing, see Tremayne and Ballinger 2008 for an introduction to this
athletic discipline), what we have learned from it, and what we have transferred to our work
as and with managers.
The insights that led to this approach did not happen overnight, but have developed over the
past two decades, as we gradually progressed from dancesport beginners to champions, all
the while working in and with different organisations. This is very much work in progress,
and we are still at the beginning of the journey. As highly experienced dancers, we are aiming
to formulate important points about leading and following in dance, which are often lost when
non-dancer scholars use dance as metaphor. It seems very important to bring these points
into the academic conversation about dance and organization, to add more substance to this
We base our approach on the notion that leadership/leading and followership/following are
relational, mutually constructed and mutually enabled. We have found Cunliffe and Eriksen’s
(2011) review of the field of research on relational leadership very helpful here. They map
out three broad themes: relational leadership as enacted in networks, being socially
constructed, and distributed throughout networks of collaboration. At this early stage in our
research, we recognise elements of this mapin our experiences with and interpretations of
leadership, as we look at several different aspects of relational leadership: we do see it
“within a broadly hermeneutic phenomenological ontology of relational and embedded human
experience as selves-in relation-to-others and an epistemology grounded in knowing-
from-within interactive moments” (Cunliffe and Eriksen 2011: 1433). In particular, we add a
bodily/embodied dimension to their notion that “relational leaders are aware of the
importance of the flow of present moments in making sense of complexity, resolving
problems, shaping strategic direction and practical actions” (p.1446). In the fast-paced,
highly competitive world of dancesport, leaders need to be highly aware of their relatedness
at all times in order to be successful this will be explored in more detail later.
Using dance as a medium rather than justa metaphor, we focus on the embodied,
corporeal aspects and dynamics of leading and following, relating them to lead/follow roles
and tasks of people in organisations. Exploring the lived experiences of people in leader-
follower-relationships, we use the concept of embodied cognition, in the sense that it is
situated, time-constrained and body based (Wilson 2002), as a basis and argue that dance
can provide a vehicle for immediate, implicit insightsand even aha effectsthrough
sensory, bodily experiences. We do see the body as the basis of cognition, in that our “own
ordinarily kinaesthetic experiences essentially frame the acquisition and development of
cognitive structures” (Wilson and Foglia 2011).
More specifically, the concept of embodied cognition embraces movement and considers
dance as a nonverbal language (Stelter 2000, Hanna 2014):
Perception and cognition are part of the process of interpretation, a process
where movement and action are always included. They work as an embodied
unity where body and mind have been brought together and function together.
(Stelter 2000: 66)
116 Matzdorf & Sen
Sheets-Johnstone (2011) goes furthest in her view of embodied cognition, in that she posits
that “consciousness is fundamentally a corporeal consciousness” (p. xxi), i.e. inextricably
linked to the senses. She further argues that “movement is first of all the mode by which we
make sense of our own bodies and by which we first come to understand the world [...] and
thus, how our tactile-kinesthetic bodies are epistemological gateways” (p. xxv). Based on this
premise, thinking on one’s feet, taken literally, should provide an excellent way of
understanding, in that it would constitute a rediscovery of one’s earlier experiences.
We also position our ongoing work in the expanding field of organizational aesthetics, with its
discussions around embodied learning and experience aspects which had long been
neglected, but have been brought to the fore over the past two decades (more recently
Taylor and Hansen 2005, Sinclair 2005a, Hansen et al 2007). In taking a phenomenological
approach, we aim to draw attention to leadership and followership being relational and, like
many other dimensions/aspects of personal and organisational life, linked to sensory
experience. We take the position that management happens through social construction in
dimensions of interaction between members of organizations, leaders and followers (Hansen
et al 2007, Küpers 2013, Hujala et al 2014). Sinclair (2005b: 404) argues that “the body can
be a mediator, inuencing a leader’s capacity for openness and learning. The body registers
feelings. It allows us to take note, for example, of a hunched posture or shallow breath, and
make bodily and mental adjustments”.
Dance embodies many aspects of organisational life in a microcosm teamwork, power
relationships, job roles, competition, politics, etc and, in our experience (and the experience
of managers we have worked with), offers a medium to explore, experiment and challenge,
within a facilitated safe and playful environment. We argue that, based on the concept of
embodied cognition, dance can provide a vehicle for immediate, implicit insights and aha
effects through sensory, bodily experiences: [...] encouraging people to note their bodies
and be in their bodies more consciously changes their mindset towards themselves. It can
also foster a capacity to read, register and feel compassion for what is going on for others,
that is revealed and knowable through bodies. Body awareness anchors people in the here
and now, connecting to present experience, rather than being driven by anxieties about the
future or regret for the past.” (Sinclair 2005b: 403).
Our approach is one of reflexivity and reiteration: dialogic self-inquiry and autoethnographic
notes coupled with critical reflection of assumptions, premises, conclusions (Ellis and Adams
2014). We aim to contextualise, analyse and problematise our own experiences, following a
hermeneutic, abductive methodology (Alvesson and Sköldberg 2009). We use our own
experiences as amateur dancers and professional knowledge workers and aim to make sense
of them, but also highlight linkages between those two very different fields. By describing and
interpreting our “lived experiences” (Creswell 2007: 57) in phenomenological inquiry, we offer
a body-based understanding of what leading/following entails. Whilst Creswell (ibid.)
distinguishes between “narrative study” reporting “the life of a single individual”, as opposed
to “phenomenological study” describing “the meaning for several individuals of their lived
experiences”, we cannot make this distinction, as our story involves two individuals plus both
our shared as well as our individual meanings. Cole et al. (2011) warn of the risk that “the
researcher has to be aware of the difficulties, as epistemic reflexivity can lead to a never
ending reflexive spiral” indeed, this fear has hit at least one of us already:
The boundaries between research and experience, between work life and life
outside work, between categories and entities such as me as a dancer, we as
a dance team, me as a researcher, we as a research team, me as a working
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1) 117
person sometimes become so fuzzy and blurred that they are almost
indistinguishable. It is difficult to keep enough distance to reflectand difficult
to find a methodological approach that covers all this and helps to make sense of
a wealth of felt, sensed, experienced data, as well as the multi-level reflections
on those data ... which sometimes become data themselves: a process of
reiteration - more like a hermeneutic rollercoaster. (Matzdorf, Snippet 1)
In terms of ethnography or autoethnography, we are in a strange situation: we did not start
as researchers, entering the dancesport world in order to conduct research, but we had
grown into and were immersed in both contexts as natives(the world of work and the world
of dancesport) before we chose to apply the ethnographic lens to them. So whilst according
to Ellis et al 2011 (p.275f), autoethnography = autobiography + ethnography, our
becomingwas years in the past and did not have the purpose of research about the other
side in the first instance. We did not study the dancesport “culture’s relational practices,
common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders
(cultural members) and outsiders (cultural strangers) better understand the culture” (Ellis et
al 2011: 275f) we became part of this culture as practicing dancers. However, the second
part of the definition fits:
Ethnographers do this by becoming participant observers in the culture [...] and
[...] in addition [...] analyze these experiences. [...] Autoethnographers must not
only use their methodological tools and research literature to analyze experience,
but also must consider ways others may experience similar epiphanies; they
must use personal experience to illustrate facets of cultural experience, and, in
so doing, make characteristics of a culture familiar for insiders and outsiders.
(Ellis et al 2011: 275f)
One of the things we attempt to do is to make epiphanyinsights from one culture useful in
the other. Our research aims a) to make that transfer obvious to others; b) to enable others
to make a similar transfer, without them having to be a full member of both worlds.
What Ellis et al (2011: 279) require of autoethnographic accounts, also applies to our
mostly dyadic - research:
Co-constructed narratives illustrate the meanings of relational experiences,
particularly how people collaboratively cope with the ambiguities, uncertainties,
and contradictions of being friends, family, and/or intimate partners. Co-
constructed narratives view relationships as jointly-authored, incomplete, and
historically situated affairs. [...] Personal narratives are stories about authors
who view themselves as the phenomenon and write evocative narratives
specifically focused on their academic, research, and personal lives.
So as well as describing and analysing leadership and followership in dancesport and
highlighting some of the parallels to organisational life, we also include what we call
snippets” – journal notes, insights, ideas and impressions jotted down before, after or during
conversations, occasional thought bubblesthat pop upon a bus or train, during a lecture,
seminar or meeting, during a practice or on the journey home from a dance lesson or a
competition ... Journal-style, they convey our personal thoughts, feelings and comments
about themes and issues that we are working on. We have been writing these snippetsat
irregular intervals. The first jotted-down notes date back to 2005, but we are writing them
more often now, as we reflect on our dancing, learning and work more regularly. To start
with, they were just a random collection of loose-leaf handwritten notes and typed-up
notepad, text or Word files. They are part of an ongoing dialogue between us as dancers,
118 Matzdorf & Sen
partners and researchers, helping us to reflect on the sometimes confusing complexity that
we have chosen to explore.
In addition to those notes, we have also included several quotes from a number of interactive
2-hour workshops that we have run with groups of managers, postgraduate students
(professionals studying part-time) and academics over the past decade. In those workshops,
we have used dance as a medium to explore leader-follower-ship, getting participants to pair
up, give it a go, swap roles, feed their experiences back to each other and to the group and
identify parallels to their work life. In addition, we asked them to put their thoughts and
feelings in writing, using a feedback form with a number of open-ended questions (e.g. what
did you feel from your follower/leader? Did one role feel more natural than the other? How
did you deal with mistakes? etc.)
Followership and leadership in contemporary dancesport
Modern coaches emphasise that the contributions to the whole performance of a dancing
couple are 51% from the leader, and 49% from the follower (metaphorically speaking there
are no statistical studies to prove this as an exact number!). Whilst there are, undeniably,
controversial gender issues that need looking at, modern competitive ballroom dancing has
moved on and away from stereotypes such as the lady’s role is just to look decorativeto a
concept that takes a partnership approach and sees the contribution of the two roles to the
success of a performance as near equal. The reason for this change is not least the
development of competitive dancing (or dancesport) from elegant, relaxed movement to a
more athletic, powerful and dynamic performance.1
We aim here to break with traditional (i.e. gender-stereotypical) understanding of ballroom
dancing where leadand follow were the domain of the man and woman respectively,
and demonstrate that, at least on the competitive side, this has changed into a more
dynamic, integrated, high-energy approach where constant monitoring of movement is
“embodied cognition in action” and use of the entire body from both follower and leader.
In dancesport, the ability to lead does not just mean shifting a follower across the dance
floor. Contrary to traditional (and still popular) notions, the bossin dancing is not the leader
but the rhythm of the music, as illustrated in the following diagram (Figure 1, Matzdorf and
Sen 2005):
1 The notoriously traditionally gendered(or in plain English: sexist) world of ballroom dancing has evolved, and so
has its understanding of leadership and followership. Until some years ago, a dance teacher’s answer to a female
follower’s request for explanation of complex choreography co-ordination of particular moves might have been,
somewhat dismissively, “just follow and look pretty” (this was actually the authorsexperience with one of the senior
figures on the dance coaching scene!).
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1) 119
Figure 1. Who is the boss”?
So throughout a dance, whilst leader and follower are enacting their relationship, they are
both bound by and led by the rhythm of the music that they are dancing to.
The leader initiates movements and invites the follower to follow this lead by moving and
opening up space for the leader to move into, the leader now followingthe follower into the
newly available space. Whilst the leader initiates a movement, the person going backwards
(and this switches dynamically between leader and follower depending on the figure being
danced) is in control of making the space and controlling the distance travelled.
At all times each partner is responsible for her/his own balance, and the follower should never
abdicate responsibility for his or her own movements. In other words, on almost every
move it is the follower’s decision to follow (unless the leader uses physical force, which would
not be conducive to achieving the common goal of harmonious and smooth movement!).
Hence, followers need to take responsibility for their actions. Especially in the demanding field
of contemporary dancesport and in the light of constantly (i.e. from one step to the next)
changing mode, control and intensity of action (i.e. changing weightof initiation and
reaction), it might be more accurate to describe the relationship as Leaderand Co-leader,
since the term followeroften implies too passive a role. The concepts of “shared leadership”
(Slater and Doig 1988), Murphy’s (1988) notion of “invisible leadership”, and Senge’s (1990)
concept of leadership as “collective capacity to create value” are more helpful in this respect.
Or, in Pedler et al’s (2003) words: “This puts the responsibility for leadership on you as a
person, but in company and relationship with other people” (p. 7). Interestingly, good dance
leaders are not the ones who constantly feel the need to remind their followers that they are
or should be in control(“Stop trying to lead – I’m in charge here!”).
Beyond themselves, dance partners have to manage the relationship with the rhythm of the
music, and both the amount (small vs large floor) and the shape (square vs rectangular vs
any other shape of floor) of the space around them. Crisis management, i.e. reacting to
sudden, unpredictable changes in the environment (e.g. avoiding collisions with other
couples) or their own condition (e.g. regaining balance after a near miss), is as much a part
of the complexity of this situation as coordination of their different tasks. As Küpers (2013)
talks about “improvisation as enactment of inter-practice in leadership (p. 342) and
“embodied practicing of leadership” (p. 336), we are taking this literally and putting it into
physical practice.
Depending on desired outcome (an aesthetically pleasing performance, embodying the
character and style of the dance, versus a leisurely social stroll, just to name two widely
differing possibilities) and skills level, the leader’s responsibilities are:
120 Matzdorf & Sen
planning ahead (choreography, starting points, fallback solutions, anticipating possible
problems etc.);
assessing and taking into account the physical environment (i.e. floor size, physical
qualities and limits of dance space, the position of adjudicators as well as other dancers);
communicating the plan to the follower (through clear steering);
communicating plan to the audience, adjudicators and other competitors;
being in tunewith the music and the partner;
listening for the follower’s feedback;
monitoring the environment for obstacles (static or moving);
Modifying the plan
working to a grand planwhilst modifying it in response to changes in the environment;
reassessing, adapting, or changing the next move/s from follower's feedback;
The leader needs to be in the future (planning directions and movements) as well as in the
here and now (turning plan into action, picking up responses and modifying plan
The follower’s responsibilities are:
Listeningwith the body
to pick up the leader’s signals;
to decide upon appropriate action;
to carry out the action;
to fill out the space in figures and choreography through expressive shaping”;
Taking the lead (as and when required)
to make the space for the leader to move into (the person going backwards is controlling
the movement);
allowing the leader to perform their own movements;
holding their position to create turn;
Generally, the follower’s area of responsibility is more in the here and now, allowing the
leader to lead, but also to deputise when appropriate. And by the way, stayingtuned to
the leader does not do away with the need for the follower to have a sense of general
directions within the room.
At a very physical level, good leaders are expected to have a vision, a grand planof what
they want to achieve for the duration of the music this can be anything from an elaborate
choreography to free improvisation.
Follower and leader have to manage themselves in their respective roles (Lawrence 1979),
but also manage their relationship to each other (trust, acceptance, allowing mistakes), their
own private space, their communal space, as well as the space around them and the other
dancers on the floor. This is a complex set of tasks the sheer complexity makes it already a
suitable comparison to people’s work lives in organisations.
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1) 121
Followership and leadership in organisations
We can draw parallels between the leadership and followership in dance to that in
organisations. We address this in this case using examples from our own working lives, from
autoethnographic data that we have collected over the years, in our ongoing work with both
large and small organisations.
Revisiting some of the key issues and themes from the previous section, we highlight their
links to organisational life.
Fairly obviously, part of the requirements of leadership within organisations is to make plans
for future actions, such as development plans, financial plans, etc. For (non-dancer)
managers it might come as a surprise that the same applies to leaders on the dancefloor.
The physical environment and organisational hierarchy within a working environment can
shape the interactions within groups and teams:
Now working in a much bigger team, working on a vital part of a national
infrastructure, located in a large open-plan office, I find that it feels like a
dance - constantly navigating a crowded and complex environment, leading,
being led, teaching, being taught, sensing what others are doing, using my
peripheral vision, moving around in a shared space - between desks,
between groups, between tasks, between layers in the organisational
hierarchy … working to stay grounded, keeping my balance, my weight over
my feet, preventing myself from being pulled or pushed off balance.
By this, I mean that many of the tasks that I learned to do as a leader in
competitive dance have parallels in the business world. For instance, in
dance, I learned to keep my peripheral vision in play, and look for spaces to
move into, what others were doing, what space they were going to move
into, whether I would need to stop, and to be able to communicate that
clearly to my partner. In my current job, I need to be aware of the work
others are doing, and how it will impact my own work, or how I can help or
mesh with the other areas of work, to prevent collisionsthat take time and
energy to resolve. In reviewing other’s work, having my own reviewed, in
explaining parts of the system, understanding and having other parts of the
system explained to me, in interacting and communicating clearly with
people in other teams and parts of the organisation, and in making trade-offs
between one task and another, I can feel the strong parallels with
competitive dancing. (Sen, Snippet 5)
Communication in business is paramount: leaders must communicate clearly with their
followers, to enable them to perform their duties and meet their targets.
I used some of these techniques in leading my team - allowing people to
learn by making mistakes, also using different approaches when it was clear
one was not connecting or making sense. But above all, clarity and trust
became most important to me. Being clear on what was required, and
122 Matzdorf & Sen
trusting people to do their jobs, giving them autonomy and power, made me
a better leader. This was evident in the change in their behaviour, going
from asking me about each detail and decision, to making many decisions on
their own, and coming up with options and solutions on their own. (Sen,
Snippet 2)
A leader needs to “be in tune” - in organisations, there are many factors that produce a
context in which the leaders and followers must act; these can vary from company values,
mission statements, goals, stakeholder expectations, market factors, public opinion,
regulatory frameworks, but also they can literally mean the organisational rhythm within the
department or team:
This is a new way of working within the NHS; we are breaking the monolithic
traditional waterfallmodel of software development which takes years and
often results in delays, overspend and failure. We have developed a new
rhythm around 4 week sprints, a rhythm of constantly repeated specify,
develop, test, deliver, refine. (Sen, Snippet 1)
This sense of communal rhythm, engagement and mutuality and the importance to pay
heed to these elements to create a successful working environment is echoed by feedback
from workshop participants, as they verbalise some of their insights:
The relationship between leader and follower, being clear and being
comfortable = success and development [...]; looking at power and
resistance and who has power and who resists leadership and why.
(Workshop participant)
Raised my awareness of how as a leader you must be able to work
collaboratively with your staff to achieve goal. (Workshop participant)
Getting the balanceright - not dragging other person. Both being in tune”.
(Workshop participant)
Powell and Gifford (this issue) report similar responses from delegates on their leadership
development programme: “The use of arts-based sessions, designed to give delegates a real
physical experience of what performing artists do in order to work successfully in ensembles
to deliver an outstanding performance, was shown to deliver noticeable results in terms of
changed attitudes and behaviours”.
Monitoring the environment is vital. It is not just on the dancefloor that obstacles can be
Two years ago, I worked as part of a small team (with two colleagues) that
was going through a difficult change process. Areas of responsibility were not
clearly demarcated, but my colleagues wanted them to be more clearly
separated. My response was to initiate more frequent team communications
and to make explicit what each one of us was leading on, to make sure that
they both had a lead on their respective areas, but also to ascertain that
we all knew what was happening. In a way, I endeavoured to keep them in
the leadin order to enable better collaboration.” (Matzdorf, Snippet 2)
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1) 123
In a large open plan area, with team seating assignments changing on a
monthly basis (though not everyone moves every time), it becomes hard to
become too territorial about particular areas, and the fact that we work often
across team boundaries - someone outside our team often has expertise we
need, so there is a lot of getting up and moving around the space, and
discussions and little groups forming and breaking up. (Sen, Snippet 3)
But often it is metaphorical; the obstacles can be other companies, individuals, government
regulation, public relations disasters, and many other possible operational issues.
Modifying the plan
Working to a grand planwhilst modifying it in response to changes in the environment (i.e.
the traffic), leaders have to consider organisational or team strategy, but also be flexible,
adjusting goals and tasks, and reacting to changes and challenges:
I have planned work for the team, long-standing planned tasks such as
moving the development infrastructure from our development partners to in-
house, improving backup and restore processes, to new medium term tasks
such as moving data-centres to government mandated ones, but then we
have emergencies and unexpected issues and bug-fixes, or operational
issues around disk-usage that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
It’s a constant balancing act of strategic, long term plans versus short term
goals and quick fixes. Sometimes long term goals have to change - such as
the change in government rules around public sector data-centres. (Sen,
Snippet 6)
Reassessing and taking into account feedback is always necessary, combined with letting the
followers or team members do their jobs. Trust is mutual and cannot be demanded, but has
to be built.
I learned, perhaps not as quickly as I should, that I needed to trust my
partner to do her part, that I had to initiate the action, and then allow her to
do her action, allowing me the space to do my action. I had to learn to allow
my partner to take initiative at different times (the person going backwards
has the initiative, as they must make the physical space for the person going
forwards), to not push my partner or physically try to move her into the
position I wanted, but to hint, to guide, to allow her to perform her actions. I
learned that I couldnt do it for her.
That helped me to understand, in my new role and my new company,
developing software for schools, that I needed to let my staff do their jobs,
and not micro-manage, but to allow them the space to do things their own
way, to guide and keep the grand plan, but not to decide on every last
detail myself. I found that allowing followers to be active participants in the
equation to be an underrated part of the leadership-followership dynamic,
but doing so gave team members the space to develop their own potential,
as well as allowing them to develop the best possible solutions to problems
that they took more ownership over. (Sen, Snippet 4)
124 Matzdorf & Sen
A good follower, like a good leader, must be able to listento the lead, and the other factors
in the environment that feed into their work.
And it can all go quite wrong, and leaders lose their legitimacy when their followers do not
acknowledge them and/or allow them to lead:
In another job, I witnessed an ineffectual leader who was ignored - their
input not valued, their commands not listened to, because they didnt
make what were considered sound technical decisions, simply because they
didnt have the background and understanding for it. (Sen, Snippet 7)
This requires a sense of independence and responsibility, as well as team spirit. To use
existing models of followership: neither a sheep, yes-person, or pragmaticfollower, and
certainly no alienatedfollower (Kelley 2008) would fulfil the requirements of a championship
tournament - in fact, to achieve top performances in a highly competitive environment, no
less than a star followerwill do! It is perhaps not surprising that in Chaleff’s (2009) model
the highest-engaged follower is labelled partner- that fits in well with the dance metaphor.
On the other hand, Ropo and Sauer’s 2008 paper leaves the reader with the impression that a
waltz leaderwould prefer a compliant sheepor yes-person. For a social waltz this might
do, but there is little chance to be a winning couple on a competition floor when your
relationship follows this pattern.
Taking the lead
If Im being pushed around, lose my balance and fall over my feet, Im not
going anywhere fast ... So I want to be allowed and enabled to do my best.
Similarly, where Im taking a lead at work, I want co-workers to take
ownership and responsibility for what they do, shape their contributions,
bring in their own talents and ideas. Im happy to support and facilitate, to
chip in as and when needed, both as leader and follower - I do want to give
and receive leadership, feedback and connection.
I dont like being managed”. I believe that management is not about
managing staffbut helping staff to manage their work(load). One thing
that resonates strongly with me, a lesson learnt from dancing, is the concept
of letting the follower do their job, i.e. not micromanaging, pushing around
or bullying, but planning, initiating and giving space - as a follower I dont
need to be pushed into action, Im actually quite keen on doing the best job I
can do Im happy to go the extra mile - but that’s difficult on a short
lead! (Oops, am I saying here that Im not a doggie - I can think for myself
… doh!)” (Matzdorf, Snippet 3)
The idea here is that the follower has their own competency and job to do, and that the
leader gives the follower the space and time to do this, and leeway to develop their own ideas
how best to go about their work:
I have been very lucky in my current role to have had a very good project
lead. His approach to leading is to provide a strong vision, delegate
responsibility to competent people, and say if anyone or anything is
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1) 125
stopping you from getting things done, then come to me and I will fix it.
This means that he will find a workable solution to issues like insufficient
budget, people outside the team putting barriers in the way, and he is not
afraid to shout at people outside the team to make things happen.
Sometimes in the NHS this is the most valuable characteristic a leader can
have. He makes it possible to get things done, in a culture that has
traditionally been very resistant to change. Giving me this space and time
has really helped me to get on with my job and produce good results. (Sen,
Snippet 8)
Discussion and further questions
Dance as metaphor for leadership has become fairly widely used over the past two decades.
Many management theorists use it just in that metaphorical sense, to emphasize the rituals,
the co-ordinated balletic (ideally harmonious?) patterns of actions and interweaving
activities of an organisation. Two typical examples: In Senge and Kleiner’s 1999 book The
Dance of Change, the dance metaphor is only used in the title of the book; it does not occur
anywhere else, which might beg the question whether it actually adds any value. Other
authors, such as Stumpf and Dutton in their paper The dynamics of learning through
management simulations: Let’s dance (2007), use dance as a metaphor for various parts of a
learning process, but the actual method employed for the course described has nothing to do
with dance. Others, like Chaleff (2009), extend the metaphor to emphasise movement,
relationship, co-ordination and togetherness in the workplace:
In the dance of leaders and followers, we change partners and roles [...]. With
each new partner we must [...] adjust our movements and avoid others toes. If
we are leading, we must lead, and if we are not, we must follow, but always as a
strong partner. We constantly [...] improve our gracefulness in a wide diversity
of styles and tempos. (Chaleff 2009: 31)
Some scholars use dance as a comparison for leadership styles (e.g. Ropo and Sauer 2008).
However, the image of a waltzing couple as a well-oiled machine (Ropo and Sauer 2008)
did not resonate at all with our own experience of managing at the edge of chaos! When we
dance, especially in a competitive context, we push our bodies to the limits - one wrong move
could mean anything from falling over to twisting a joint, or from rupturing a ligament to
concussion or even a cracked skull, such are speed, momentum and potential impact on the
dancefloor. It takes a significant amount of trust to jump into a void hoping that your
partner will be there to catch you - this might sound dramatic and elicit images of trapeze
artists rather than smooth travelling around a dancefloor but the harsh reality of
competitive dancing is just that.2 Mark Powell’s first-hand experience of high-level Latin
American dancing (see Powell and Gifford’s article in this special issue) echoes this.
But is Ropo and Sauer’s impression wrong? Their experience of a waltz might have been a
visit to an afternoon tea dance. And what if dancing is both? What looks like a well-oiled
machine to an outsider is in fact managing at the edge of chaos when watching a world
champion perform, the main impression is that it’s smooth and easy the audience do not
see the hard work beneath the smile (in this respect dancesport resembles ice dance, figure
skating, gymnastics, circus acrobatics, or ballet). And is that not the case in many
organisations? What comes across as seamless customer service, presented with a smile, is
2 As an aside: dancesport injuries actually include cracked ribs, fractured skulls, and kidney injuries, amongst more
benigndamages such as dislocated joints, torn cartilage and ruptured ligaments.
126 Matzdorf & Sen
often the result of more or less chaotic processes, emotional labour, struggles, politics … the
customer/audience is not meant to see this, as long as they are happy with the results!
But whilst there is much going on, both practically and theoretically, in the field of
experiential management learning, only very few scholars have used the practicality and
corporeality of dance as a learning tool (some examples are Peterson and Williams 2004,
Hujala et al 2014; more often management consultants such as Leary-Joyce and Bezy 2012,
Ludevig 2014). From our own experience as dancers, this has been a missed opportunity - a
gap that this journal is beginning to fill (see Springborg and Sutherland; Powell and Gifford;
Zeitner et al.; and Hujala et al., this issue). So, based on Sheets-Johnstone’s (2011) and
Shotter’s (2011) approaches of movement-as-cognition, as well as Stelter’s (2000) and
Hanna’s (2014) notions of dance-as-language and arguments for sensory learning, we have
replaced - or better: added to - the “idea” of dance with the concrete “experience” of dance.
We use the ballroom dance metaphor to describe the leader-follower relationship as a
phenomenological exploration of embodied and lived experiences. Our experiences both in a
dancesport environment, and in work environments, have shown us that there is a lot of
cross-fertilisation and parallels between those two areas. This is echoed by feedback from
participants of the workshops that we have facilitated over the past ten years, using dance
exercises as a vehicle to explore leader-follower-ship.
Given that the “practicing [...] of leader- and followership arises from direct and engaged
participation in bodily experiences, acts and responses of living and organizing” (Küpers,
undated: 8), we have explored these issues in a range of practical learning situations. Like
the participants in our workshops, we have found that dance has indeed been helpful in
highlighting and making explicit some of the more complex leader-follower dynamics, helping
to understand and shaping our own leadership and followership processes in our work
environments. In that respect, we have taken up Chandler’s (2012) suggestion that dance
“would be a useful metaphor” for organisational life and could “serve to bring out the non-
verbal aspects of everyday cultural forms in which it is the interplay of human bodies in their
physical and social context that needs to be understood” (p.866), but in putting it into
physical practice we have moved beyond it to take it a step further. With an emphasis on
being in the moment, dancing encourages both leader and follower to tune into their
emotions and their bodily awareness, fostering “a capacity to register and feel compassion for
what is going on for others, that is revealed and knowable through bodies” (Sinclair, 2005b:
403). Hujala et al. (this issue) sum this up very succinctly in their research question: “Why
should we be satisfied with mere words if we can harness the whole physical body of the
participants to elicit, express and create new and different kinds of knowledge about follower-
leader interaction?”
By rejecting the traditional, dichotomous perspective of the leader and follower having rigidly
defined roles, and instead replacing this with a dynamic, integrated approach of embodied
leading and co-leading, using an embodied cognition concept and involving the entire body,
we have experienced a significant change of understanding leadership, and have been able to
apply that understanding to our own work contexts.
This has had a discernible effect, as the feedback received from a work team member shows:
I like his lead - it’s much more laid back ... when I was working under my
previous manager, he was always there all the time, giving me stuff to do next.
He gave me lots of horrible stuff to do … but now I can get on with the things I
need to do.” (Sen, Snippet 9)
Organizational Aesthetics 5(1) 127
This provides support that reflective dance does make a difference and a difference to
attitude about leadership/followership.
However, many open questions remain, for example:
To what extent can our experience of two decades as competitive dancers translate into
experiences for non-dancers?
To what extent can our reflections be useful for others?
Being somewhat compulsive reflectors ourselves, to what extent can we assume that
others, less reflectively inclined professionals (e.g. managers with busy schedules) would
find the dance experience illuminating? And what difference (if any) would it make to their
day-to-day practice? Research presented elsewhere in this volume (Powell and Gifford,
Springborg and Sutherland, Hujala et al.) suggests that such change does indeed happen.
How can our highly embodiedand individual experience be communicated to others and
still make sense, without a bodily, enlightening, explanatory presence? Several incidents
in conference presentations underline the importance of bodily presence and four-
dimensional, personal experience … often, one movement says more than many words.
Beyond our own experiences and snippets”, comments and feedback from workshops on
leader-follower-ship and dance provide some initial data that appear to confirm at least some
of our personal conclusions. Evidence is now emerging that this can work, and we hope that
our study will encourage further inquiry.
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About the Author(s)
Fides Matzdorf a researcher and facilitator based at Sheffield Business School. She has an
eclectic background, holds various degrees (English Language and Literature, Applied
Linguistics, Management Learning), and has spent nearly two decades in facilities
management education and CPD. She is interested in leader-follower-ship research,
organisational learning and change, mindfulness, and she likes scenario planning. Crossing
boundaries is the story of her life ...
Ramen Sen works for the Health and Social Care Information Centre in Leeds. Having a
gained a doctorate in electronic engineering, he has since realised that one of the most
interesting aspects of technology is people, and how they interact with technology and with
each other. Having worked in many different organisations as an IT consultant, run a small
software development company, and seen many different organisational cultures, he became
interested in how organisations deal with leadership and followership, and now works
undercover leading one of the teams that keeps the data backbone of the NHS running 24/7.
Most of the rest of his time he spends working on his dancing
Together, the authors compete in Ballroom and Latin American dancing, and are the 2015
United Kingdom Senior 10 Dance champions.
... In dancesport (depending on skill level and envisaged outcome), the leader's responsibilities are (see Matzdorf 2005;Matzdorf & Sen 2016): ...
... © FidesMatzdorf & Ramen Sen 2016 ...
Full-text available
This chapter is based on a series of experiential workshops and exercises to help leaders and followers to be more mindful about their leading and following styles, and the impact that has on their followers or leaders. This approach has emanated from the authors’ experience as academics, practitioners, and dancers. It focuses on management learning in a holistic way, and as such differs from management training that tends to focus on skills in a rationalist, often utilitarian way, providing “toolkits” to achieve simple cause-and-effect chains. This workshop has the potential to be enlightening and empowering, both for leaders and followers. It helps people to understand better the “lead” and “follow” roles and their mutual dependence, as well as to understand the implications of different leadership styles. The workshops are based on the view that leader-follower-ship is seen as relational, mutually constructed, and mutually enabling, rather than hierarchical and based on power and authority.
... Arm and shoulder movements particularly contribute to the perception of leadership [19]. Since it has been argued that the characteristics of leaders in organizations are quite similar to the ones of the leaders in dance [11,24], the nonverbal leadership cues highlighted during social interactions can probably also be found in a full-body dance improvisation. ...
... This antecedent-subsequent relationship in joint physical activity is the most often considered indicator of leadership in the literature [11,21,22]. For instance, Varni and colleagues [22] computed the leadership index by analyzing chronemic aspect of the actions taken by the interaction partners, i.e., by measuring how often the leaders take precedence with respect to the others. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper, we propose a set of algorithms to compute the cues of the nonverbal leadership in an unstructured joint full-body physical activity, i.e., the joint activity of two or more interacting persons who perform some movements without a predefined sequence and without a predefined leader. An example of such activity can be a contact dance improvisation. The paper is composed of three parts: cue set, dataset and algorithms. First, we propose a cue set of nonverbal leadership which is grounded on existing literature and studies. It is composed of eight cues that characterize the nonverbal behaviors of the leader in a joint full-body physical activity. In this paper we also introduce a new dataset. It consists of multimodal data (video, MoCap) of contact dance improvisations. Additionally, sensory deprivation conditions (vision and/or touch restraint) were introduced to collect the evidences of the various strategies used by leaders and followers during improvisation. The dataset was annotated by twenty-seven persons who carried out continuous annotation of leadership in the recorded material. In the last part of the paper, we propose a set of algorithms that works on positional 3D data (i.e., joints' positions obtained from motion capture data of dancers). Each algorithm models one among the discussed cues of the nonverbal leadership.
... This requires close attention to what an individual student is experiencing in the moment and calibration of the activity's variables to create a balance between what Kolb and Kolb (2005) call challenge and support. I often invite students to craft resonant somatic metaphors (Foster, 2015;Matzdorf & Sen, 2016). I may encourage them, for example, to bring to mind a current situation in their life where they feel stuck while engaging in a drill where their partner is restraining their range of motion. ...
Full-text available
In this paper I describe the integration of taijutsu, a martial art emerging from the Japanese ninja tradition, into an MBA complexity leadership course. There is broad consensus amongst leadership scholars that intangible qualities such as humility, courage, and uncertainty tolerance are particularly important in complex contexts. There is, however, little consensus as to how such qualities can be effectively cultivated. I review the literature related to martial arts training in management education and discuss the pedagogical challenges of developing both the competencies and capacities required to lead in complexity. I introduce taijutsu and describe several training drills and a facilitation methodology intended to help students develop practical fluency with systems thinking and its implications for leadership and decision-making. Student reflections highlight increased engagement along with potential perspectival and behavioral shifts as promising areas for further investigation. I close by making a case for deeper integration of informational and transformational learning within management education.
... When researching the application of art in organizational work, some researchers focus on the learning content (Barry & Meisiek, 2010;Bush, 2011;Dobson & Gaunt, 2015;Hatch, 1999;Jansson, 2018;Ludevig, 2015;Matzdorf & Sen, 2016;Pearce, Launay, & Dunbar, 2015;Romanowska, Larsson, & Theorell, 2013). While often a blend, others attend more to the learning process (Darsø, 2004;Ladkin & Taylor, 2010;Springborg, 2010;Sutherland, 2013). ...
Full-text available
Arts-based interventions may expand how team members and leaders understand their roles and impact. For an intervention to be useful, there needs to be a way for the aesthetic experience to translate back into the regular organisation. Nine managers of a professional services firm, including the chief executive, engaged in weekly group singing sessions for more than a year. The paper discusses their learnings in light of the two communities of practice they took part in—the choir practice and the managerial practice. In terms of learning content, the notion of “alpha-male” serves a label for the range of identities and behaviours that were rattled. The aesthetic experience of multi-part choral singing enabled the participants to hear the futility of being constantly pushy. Eventually a more varied team dynamics emerged. The paper focuses on one particular aspect of the set-up—the location of the practices and the transfer space between them. The stair-case connecting the two practices became an in-between space—a conduit—where the aesthetic experience lingered, was interpreted, and applied, in silence or through dialogue
... It has been shown that for example theories of organisations can be grouped depending on whether they use machines, biological organisms and ecosystems, cultures, brains, or other domains of experience as metaphorical lens to analyse the phenomenon of organisations (Morgan 2006 There are many examples of scholars who have used various practices from the world of dance and choreography to analyse non-dance phenomena. For example, many scholars have used various couple dances as metaphorical lens to analyse leader-follower relationships in organisations (Matzdorf 2015;Springborg and Sutherland 2015). Robin Denise Johnson (2013) has used the dance practice Five Rhythms to analyse differences in leadership style. ...
In this chapter Weston and Farber position food as an arts-based research method that can be used to gain an enriched understanding of organizational life. Food is under-researched in business and management studies and the authors address this gap by examining how food intersects with organizational life. The wide and varied ways that food is woven through everyday life at work demonstrates its value as a context that can deepen understanding of organizational engagement. In this chapter Weston and Farber review food research from three perspectives. First, they show how food has been used as a research context for examining social engagement. Second, they document a range of diverse qualitative research methods that have been applied to investigate food practice in the workplace. Third, they examine food as an arts-based research method wherein food is used as a tool to accentuate and enrich social interaction during the research process. Finally, they offer two illustrative examples to highlight their own use of food as an arts-based research method and as a mode of knowledge dissemination. These illustrative examples aim to guide researchers through the process of using food as an arts-based method.
... There are many examples of scholars who have used various practices from the world of dance and choreography to analyse non-dance phenomena. For example, many scholars have used various couple dances as metaphorical lens to analyse leader-follower relationships in organisations (Matzdorf 2015;Springborg and Sutherland 2015). Robin Denise Johnson (2013) has used the dance practice Five Rhythms to analyse differences in leadership style. ...
Dancers are increasingly seeing their art as a form of research. This is reflected in the development of new techniques, dance notation, and ever-expanding choices of topics that dancers deal with through their performances. Consequently, dance has become a treasure chest for researchers. In this chapter, I present a range of ideas for how elements from the world of dance can be adopted by researchers in business, management, and humanities. Adopting such elements from the world of dance is particularly useful when studying unconscious, affective, and aesthetic aspects of organisational life. For inspiration, I have included four different research designs drawing on dance. However, the possibilities are endless, and the reader is encouraged to be creative.
... It is this approach from which 'performativity' is drawn in examining administrator and leader behaviour and style. Dance and choreography have been used to explore embodied forms of knowing, movement and non-verbal communication as well as methods of practice in organisational life, roles and relationships (Matzdorf and Sen 2016;Yams and Srhoj 2018). The use of metaphoric analysis is also part of the aesthetics of organisation, providing a means of expression personally and forming the stories, myths and rituals of organisational life, connections to other and social structures and forces, and the construction of identity (Strati 2016). ...
This rejoinder article first examines the foundational theories and models for metaphor use in a number of related fields, as well as in educational administration and leadership, presenting a model for analysis. Secondly, it reviews the articles in this special issue against the model proposed.
Full-text available
The body is an essential feature of our everyday lives. What is known, sensed and felt flows within and through the body, and the majority of our everyday interaction is fulfilled using our bodies. This PhD thesis explores embodied agency in professional dance as an aesthetic phenomenon, surrounded by various regimes, struggles and passions. In addition to an introductory part, this thesis consists of four sub-studies, each of which aims to provide complementary aspects to the phenomenon of embodied agency. The accomplishment of this aim is threefold; first, the context of professional dance, which builds on the aesthetics of bodily movement, offers an avenue for exploring the research phenomenon closely; second, the presence of the two distinct worlds of off-stage and on-stage, within the context of dance, offers a special avenue for studying embodied agency; day-to-day actions. Hence, this thesis is much more than a study about dance, dancing and dancers. It illustrates how being a relational phenomenon, embodied agency is dependent on cultural expectations and bodily practices that are constantly on the move, which are also affected by other humans and non-humans. This thesis contributes to the literature of the body and aesthetics in organization studies by offering a more nuanced understanding of how and to what extent embodied agency can be negotiated. Methodologically, this thesis brings fresh openings to the use of visual material by illustrating the ways that the photographs can be used as a tool for opening up spontaneous discussions about sensitive aspects that are difficult to verbalise. Moreover, this thesis describes the ways the researcher is practising embodied agency in the field as well, and suggests that the researcher’s aesthetic experiences do fundamentally matter when carrying out qualitative research.
Dieser Beitrag integriert Methoden und Konzepte der Tanzwissenschaft in die Organisationsforschung, wobei der sich bewegende Körper das Bindeglied zwischen beiden Feldern darstellt. Diese Perspektive richtet sich nicht an der Effizienz aus, sondern untersucht die Ästhetik als sinnliche Wahrnehmung. Tanz hilft uns, über andere und alternative Formen des Organisierens zu reflektieren und diese ‚in Bewegung‘ zu bringen. Tanz ergänzt bestehende Kunst-Metaphern und lenkt unseren Blick auf die verkörperte, nonverbale Erfahrung von Menschen in Organisationen. Eine Analyse kinästhetischer Praxis zeigt Körperpolitiken als sozial geschaffen (Gender); erklärt soziale Choreographien als verkörperte Machtstrukturen; und stellt kinästhetische Empathie als Mechanismus vor, der hierarchische Führungsperspektiven zugunsten kollektiver Dynamik demontiert. Tanz kann als so genannte künstlerische Intervention zur Organisations- und Personalentwicklung eingesetzt werden, dort neue Erfahrungen für Teilnehmer ermöglichen, etwa in Bezug auf ‚Führung‘ und ‚Folgen‘. Tanz eignet sich auch als qualitative, künstlerische Forschungsmethode in der Wissenschaft und bietet Möglichkeiten feministischer Kritik an traditioneller Publikationspraxis. Gerade in den aktiven Formen von Tanz als Methode lässt sich ein Ausgangspunkt für eine performative und kritische Einmischung in Organisationen sehen.
The present research aims to identify the mediation role of the relationship between the leader and followers in the context of the effect of hostile work environment on organizational alienation. To achieve this, the following scales were adopted: (Calantone & Benedetto, 1994) scale to measure the variable of hostile work environment: (Payne, 2015) scale to measure the variable of the relationship between the leader and followers; and (Kakabadse, 1986) scale to measure the variable of organizational alienation. The general co. for cars manufacturing was chosen as the field of research, and the survey questionnaire was administered to (436) individuals that comprised of (116) leaders and (320) followers. The confirmative factorial analysis (structural equation modeling) was applied as the next step, using certain descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, simple regression analysis and hierarchal regression analysis based on the mediation variable test of (Baron & Kenny, 1986). A number of conclusions have been formed, the most important of which are as follows: the hostile work environment variable has a passive effect on the relationship between the leader and followers; the variable of the relationship between the leader and the followers has a passive effect on organizational alienation; and the variable of the relationship between the leader and the followers partially mediates the relationship between the hostile work environment and organizational alienation. Keywords: hostile work environment, the relationship between the leader and followers, the organizational alienation
Full-text available
In our experimental study we used dance as “a living and embodied interview”, aiming to harness each participant’s entire physical body to create knowledge about the leaderfollower relationship. We conducted a dance session under the guidance of a dance pedagogue using an auto-ethnographical approach. The aim of the study was to consider how dance as creative movement works as a research method when studying the leader-follower relationship. During the research process we found it relevant to consider more thoroughly the meta-theoretical assumptions embedded in this kind of arts-based method. At the beginning of the paper, we briefly describe four meta-theories: postmodern social constructionism, critical realism, pragmatism, and phenomenology. As findings we present five “dance stories” describing how we as followers in an academic work setting perceived our leader-follower relationship through dance. Dance as a research method revealed to us knowledge and meanings beyond our rational and discursive-level understanding. Dance would be suitable for diversifying research on such phenomena as power relations, emotions, and identity, which are something we can feel, but which are not easily explicitly reached by words in conventional interviews.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This workshop explores the role of the follower in enabling leadership, the leader’s twofold obligation to the present and the future, issues around power and ‘powerful-ness’, as well as the relevance of this in a work context. We use both the metaphor and the reality of ballroom dancing to explore and challenge behaviour and assumptions in our roles as leaders and followers in a mix of practical dance exercises and reflection.
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We wish to develop the argument in this paper that through aesthetic and artistic work, practices and their metaphorical use, we have a potential to better understand the relationship between academic leadership theory and practical action. By aesthetic approach we mean the experiential way of knowing that emphasizes human senses and the corporeal nature of social interaction in leadership. In this paper, we discuss how leadership could look, sound and feel like when seen via the artistic metaphor of dance. We use the traditional dance, waltz and the postmodern dance experience of raves to illustrate our argument. By doing so, we challenge traditional, intellectually oriented and positivistic leadership approaches that hardly recognize nor conceptualize aesthetic, bodily aspects of social interaction between people in the workplace. The ballroom dance waltz is used as a metaphorical representation of a hierarchical, logical and rational understanding of leadership. The waltz metaphor describes the leader as a dominant individual who knows where to go and the dance partner as a follower or at least as someone with a lesser role in defining the dance. Raves, on the other hand representparadigmatically different kind of a dance and therefore a different understanding of leadership. There are neither dance steps to learn, nor fixed dance partners where one leads and the other follows. Even the purpose or aim of dancing may not be known at the beginning of the dance, but it is negotiated as the raves go on. We think that raves describe the organizational life as it is often seen and felt today: chaotic, full of unexpected changes, ambiguous and changing collaborators in networks. Here leadership becomes a collective, distributed activity where the work processes and the targeted outcome is continually negotiated. Through the dance metaphors of waltz and raves, we suggest aspects such as gaze, rhythm and space to give an aesthetic description both to a more traditional and an emerging aesthetic paradigm of leadership where the corporeality of leadership is emphasized. We wish to make the point that leadership is aesthetically and corporeally co-constructed both between the leader and the followers as well as between the researcher and the subjects. The metaphor of dance illustrates the corporeal nature of leadership both to practitioners and theoreticians.
Purpose The purpose of this article is to develop a critical and extended understanding of practices in organizations from a phenomenological point of view. It explores the relevance of Merleau-Ponty's advanced phenomenology and ontology for understanding the role of the lived body and the embodiment of practices and change in organizational lifeworlds. Design/methodology/approach Based on the literature review and phenomenology, the role of embodied and relational dimension, the concept of an emergent and responsive “inter-practice” in organizations is developed systematically. Findings Based on the phenomenological and relational approach, the concept of (inter-)practice allows an extended more integral and processual understanding of the role of bodily and embodied practices in organizational lifeworlds as emerging events. The concept of inter-practice(ing) contributes to conceiving of new ways of approaching how responsive and improvisational practicing, related to change, coevolves within a multidimensional nexus of organizations. Research limitations/implications Specific theoretical and methodological implications for exploring and enacting relational practices as well as limitations are offered. Practical implications Some specific practical implications are provided that facilitate and enable embodied practices in organizational contexts. Social implications The responsive inter-practice is seen as embedded in sociality and social interactions and links to sociocultural and political as well as ethical dimensions are discussed. Originality/value By extending the existing discourse and using an embodied approach, the paper proposes a novel orientation for reinterpreting practice that allows explorations of the emergence and realization of alternative, ingenious and more suitable forms of practicing and change in organizations.
Ballroom dance has resurfaced worldwide as a highly popular competitive sport and might be added to Olympic medal competition for the 2012 London Games. This resurgence presents opportunities for sport psychologists to provide psychological-skills and performance-enhancement training for ballroom dancers at all competitive levels. Few sport psychologists have the personal experience, expertise, or an adequate knowledge base about the competitive-ballroom-dance environment to provide meaningful intervention strategies for participants. This article was developed to provide initial guidance for sport psychology professionals interested in working in this environment. An overview of the competitive-dance and ballroom-dance environment, strategies used by dance couples for enhanced mental preparation before and during dance competitions, and excerpts from an interview with an Australian championship-level couple provide readers insight into performance-enhancement strategies for DanceSport.
In this chapter, we detail our approach to understanding and practicing autoethnography. We begin by defining autoethnography and describing its history and emergence within qualitative social research and within psychology. We then propose general guiding principles for those seeking to do autoethnography, principles such as using personal experience, acknowledging existing research, understanding and critiquing cultural experience, using insider knowledge, breaking silence, and maneuvering through pain, confusion, anger and uncertainty. We continue with a discussion of autoethnography as a process and as a product, one that can take a variety of representational forms. After offering ways to evaluate and critique autoethnography, we conclude with a discussion of autoethnography as an orientation to the living of life and an approach that has the potential of making life better—for the writer, reader, participant, and larger culture. [Please see Google Books for full text]