On (a)gile Leadership

joe —  Sat 14-Jul-18

I’m not much fun at the movies or even watching TV. For some reason I lose interest in the main plot and find myself more interested in what happened to Little Bo Peep in Toy Story 3. She was Woody’s gal for the first two movies and now no mention of her?

Same thing happened when watching this wonderful two minute video. Take a look and tell me who the hero of this story is.

The obvious choice is the dad. The man, nicknamed “Daderina”, won the hearts of the web denizens and found many other dads hearing, “You would never do that” from their spouses.

While Daderina was amazing, my hero was the ballet teacher. I think she was the real leader here. She had her tightly choreographed plans potentially ruined by one cute little girl that just had “a moment.” Then to top it off she had a knight in shining white shorts and hairy legs cause even more disruption to her plans. As he first graced the stage she had to wonder what the other moms were going to say afterwards. Some guy just came in and stole the show from their pre-Royal Ballet angels. If you don’t think that’s how some parents think, spend some time with a Little League coach.

You can danceI am sure the teacher was relieved to have the young girl stop crying, but this wasn’t how it was supposed to go. This was supposed to be about the ballerinas, not about Daderina. Even the photographer is blocking some of the dancer’s from their parent’s eyes, just to get a picture of Daderina.

She quickly realizes something – the girls and the lone danzatore on the right end start to settle in. She is still the leader, allowing her young, on stage leaders to continue demonstrating her vision of how and when to perform each intricate step, but she needs to adjust her tactics. She recognizes that this new cast member is an agent that can be used to help accomplish her original goal. It wasn’t her plan, but to paraphrase Prussian military commander Helmuth von Motke, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. She became an agilist. She adapted and adapted quickly.

Rather than trying to keep Daderina on the side as first thought, Dad decided to embed himself with the team. Here’s the important part, at no time do you see the leader try to change that. Daderina made that decision and she did her best to not meddle in what appears to work.

As leaders, how many times do we see things not go the way we had planned and then immediately intervene to keep our well thought out plan in tact? Many times we need to let things play out a little bit and trust that if we keep our eye on the destination that the new events may take us down a different path but land at the some destination. Those that have ever tried to manage rainwater flow in their yards know this as “Water is going to go where it wants to go.”

By the way, I have no idea who the leader is. I conveniently used the pronoun she, but I have an even chance of being wrong.

Maybe it was the guy in black that whisks dad across the stage and gets him setup on the sidelines. Leader as stage hand – I love that metaphor. Dressed in black as to not be seen, usually sitting in the wings until it is time to do some heavy stage lifting. What better way to demonstrate the art of servant leadership.

Servant leaderMaybe it was the photographer. Look at the way she smiles back at the audience as if to say “ok, let’s see what happens.” If so, notice that she never takes her eye off her original goal – make it a special moment for the parents as well as the girls. While Daderina is doing her thing, she is still on stage making sure that each dancer gets their solo photo-ops. She doesn’t lose sight of her vision despite the disruption. She doesn’t break character, because her role is vital and she trusts her team. What better way to demonstrate leading from within the pack.

Or maybe it was someone we never see; someone that has built a leadership team that she trusts will do what is needed to achieve her vision and adapt as needed. What better demonstration of the silent leader type.

No matter who the leader is, I do know one mom that is thankful for Daderina. Move to the two minute mark and check out the young boy at the end. It’s at this point that our young danzatore decides that ballet should become an interpretative dance and his interpretation is a story about a chicken. Daderina made the event more light-hearted, perfect in keeping with our young dancer’s newly found improvisation routine.

Leadership comes in all styles and forms. It doesn’t take moments of conflict, strife, or even war to see great acts of leadership; they happen every day of our lives in both big and small ways. Sometimes they are simply 2 minute and 50 second tributes to the beauty and fun of our children. That’s why, when I watch movies, I don’t see plots, I see a bunch of other stories -stories of leadership like this one. They are everywhere, often performed under the guise of a bigger plot. So are our lives.

I don’t know who I should thank for allowing this wonderful moment to unfold. That’s exactly how I like my teams.