For those who have been following me for a while, you know that I really love dancing. In the last six months, I’ve immersed myself in kizomba, and I find more and more philosophical meaning in this dance. Over the weekend, I was in Riga at a festival, and when, if not at midnight, during a beautiful dance, parallels with my career came to my mind!

First, I have to tell you something about kizomba. It’s a dance originating from Angola, and it has many variations. All you need to know right now is that in this dance, it is critically important for the man to know how to lead, and for the woman to follow. It’s essential in any partner dance, but here, nothing good happens if the woman doesn’t learn to recognize the man’s signals on a very subtle level—without words, without hands! And now, let’s add to this the fact that I don’t have a regular dance partner, and I dance with different people every time. Sometimes it’s just one dance, sometimes five, but overall, their “behavior” and leading style are unfamiliar to me! Complicated? Yes! But when I understood how it works, a whole new world opened up!

In kizomba, there are certain rules. A person who has never danced before cannot just start without some amount of theory. If they can’t feel the rhythm, it’s a disaster, just like in any other dance. If they think they are leading but are actually dragging their partner across the dance floor, that’s not a good story either. And if he knows the signals and can gently convey them, and the woman knows how to react, that’s when the magic begins!

Now, let’s draw parallels with a career. How many times has an employer waited for a task to be done in a specific way without providing proper instructions? And the absence of strategic information for those who need it—do you know what it leads to? Not only to improperly performed work but sometimes also to unintentional harm to the company! It’s all about communication. When open communication at all levels is not accepted in a company, it is a direct path to loss of employee motivation. And the loss of motivation can cost a company a lot.

If an employer gives the wrong signals or no signals at all, employees do things the way they think is right. In kizomba, if a man gives me the wrong signals or none at all, I start going somewhere on my own, and 99% of the time it’s not where he intended. The dance doesn’t work. Only in dance, we might laugh at best, and at worst, think something not very pleasant, and we won’t dance with that partner anymore. But in business and work, the consequences are of a completely different scale.

In kizomba, especially in UrbanKiz, many interesting supports exist where the man’s role is to give the right signal and support, and the woman’s role is to catch that signal, tense certain core muscles (to avoid falling, breaking, and to look elegant), and most importantly, trust that the man won’t drop her!

In companies where they trust employees, there are generally fewer failures! People like having a credit of trust, and they won’t want to “fail the task.” But often, managers find it difficult to give this trust—what if they can’t handle it?

I was chatting with a girl at the festival, and she asked about the partner I had just danced with, whether he uses supports (that’s what it looks like, before various beautiful supports). I said yes, he dipped me almost to the floor, it was cool! And she said, oh no, I’m afraid of those. I’m afraid they’ll drop me! And I’m not afraid. I know the rules, and I trust that if he does it, he’ll hold me!

Same with work. There are people who are trusted, but they are still afraid to do things. They are afraid to ask questions and don’t do it. Okay, next time they won’t be trusted, and probably, that’s right. And there are those who are like fire and water, and just give them something new. If you don’t trust such people, their motivation will collapse, and these are usually the ones who take the company to the next level.

Trust works both ways! A man, even though it’s his responsibility in dance not to drop the woman, trusts the partner that she won’t crash (she’ll do everything within her control). An employee, receiving a credit of trust from the employer, also trusts him and expects support in case of need!

In kizomba, there are a million styles and variations, and each partner dances and leads differently. Similarly, companies may be similar, but everywhere, there are nuances. For a successful career, it’s important to feel these nuances and follow in harmony with them.

Oh, and there are parallels with burnout too. At one moment my parter said – “I have burned out!”. That was the 5th lesson at that day. This is exactly what he said. Cause we danced until late at night, and then we had lessons, and the level of concentration on dancing is quite high. And he just got tired! He stopped perceiving what the teacher was saying. He led me so strangely that I didn’t understand what to do. Despite loving dancing, he got tired!

The same goes for work. You can love your job, but if you overdo it and don’t give yourself a break, expect burnout.

So, if you’re in hiring:

💃🏻 Pay attention to the signals your employer gives you!
💃🏻 Understand the global strategy of the company. What are we going to dance, UrbanKiz or kizomba? Or maybe semba?
💃🏻 Trust, but also rely on yourself!

If you’re an employer/manager:
💃🏻 Give clear signals!
💃🏻 Don’t hide what the company lives on, share information!
💃🏻 Trust, but verify! If the employee coped, make things more difficult, add more complex combinations!

Find a common goal and dance one dance together!