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Dance the Tango with your Team


Many of you will know that I help individuals become better leaders by working with horses. So, ‘alternative’ approaches to leadership intrigue me. Imagine my delight the other day when I read an article claiming that being a good leader is like dancing a Tango.  Seems unlikely well, read on.

The Tango is one of the most influential and famous dances of modern history, and remains so today. It probably began in the streets of Buenos Aires in the 18th century. Soon it became the favourite dance of the European immigrants, former slaves, working and lower classes of people.

Comparison and Similarities

The Tango is based completely on improvisation. The leader shifts his weight as he moves and the follower ‘reads’ this weight shifting and moves in sync. This is similar to the popular leader / follower concept found in business and organisational leadership. In the Tango it is a mutually dependent relationship, one cannot exist without the other. 

The Tango requires a balanced and effective relationship between leader and follower that is not based on control, but rather collaboration, synergy and two-way communication. 

The qualities of a good Tango leader are:

  • Clear communication of the next move
  • Confidence and precision building trust
  • Recognition and Respect each follower’s unique contribution
  • Broad view of the dance floor to anticipate space to move into
  • Clear direction not necessarily linear and always communicated early
  • Ability to negotiate the space to perform when other leaders are on the dance floor
  • React promptly in a calm and collected manner
  • Listens to the follower(s) to ensure the correct response to his lead
  • Be present at all times until the music is over


How comfortable are you as a business leader using the Tango ‘checklist’ for your own evaluation? Would it lead to a great (dance) performance?  There is perhaps one element that is not mentioned on the list, and that is passion but that’s a whole other topic.

Does following the above guarantee success?  You can judge from this quote:
“The great thing about the Tango is that if you make a mistake and get all tangled up, you just tango on.”

Hope you enjoyed the comparison and do let me have any feedback you want to share. My thanks to Simona Zaino for her article on good Tango dancing.