For the sake of this article, I am going to make this definition even simpler. To me, leadership is all about being the “leader of the ship”—a task which is important under normal navigating circumstances and imperative in our current rough waters.
Since we are talking about rough waters, can we be real for a minute?
The last few months have been hard. I know I’ve worked more than I have in years and I’m guessing you did too. I mean, truly, did you ever think you would record all of your classes or teach them online? Could you have ever imagined doing virtual recitals or any of the creative ways owners have pulled together live performances to work with pandemic group limitations? How about building a fall schedule around class sizes instead of class times or using Marley tape to make socially distant dancing squares instead of taping floor seams?
I think you get where I’m going with this. We are experiencing things that have never been imagined and we are building for a future we can’t quite imagine yet. You’ve heard of “building the plane while flying it,” right? Well, this is more like rebuilding the ship while navigating rapids … possibly without oars or engines!
Yes, it’s hard going! But, go you must because you are the leader of your ship.
A quick search of “captain” duties reveals a variety of lists too long and technical for publishing here, but suffice it to say, a captain’s list is completed before they launch. And our checklists should be completed before we launch our new seasons.
So what is the leader of the ship responsible for? Primarily, four things:
- The soundness of the ship.
- The provisions for the trip.
- The navigation of the journey.
- The well-being of the crew and passengers.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds a lot like leading a studio to me!
As studio owners, we are responsible for the soundness of the business, we ensure that we have the right provisions for the season (classes, cash, systems, team), we chart the course from opening day until recital, and we take care of our teachers and students.
We are the leaders of the ship and the importance of the aforementioned responsibilities has been amplified by the current conditions.
If I’ve said this once during the pandemic, I’ve said it a hundred times:
If you were a ship captain and you had a small crack in the hull you could probably patch it and manage it while docked or in smooth water. But add choppy seas and watch the small crack become a hole. This is not different than the cracks we have in our businesses. Take cash flow for example. If you had trouble managing cash flow during the summer before quarantine, you are definitely going to be feeling more challenged afterward.
This holds true of the other cracks in our businesses. Just take a look at the deepest cracks and gaps you’ve faced in your business over the last few months. I’m guessing they are not brand new cracks. They are amplifications of problems that have surfaced in the past.
This is where you have to put on your captain’s hat and lead your ship. And what does it look like to lead your ship right now? Well, for some of you it might mean docking for a week or two and getting some much-needed rest and repair. For others, it may mean getting better provisions. Maybe you need to rework your tuition so you have better cash flow in the season ahead. Or perhaps you need to button up your systems so your office can be run remotely. Some of you may need to update your crew with better training and resources. Some of you need a new crew altogether. And all of us need to be aware of the health and safety of our passengers—the students we are entrusted with to teach dance and life lessons.
So whether you pronounce it “leadership” or “lead your ship,” you’re in charge of fixing what’s broken in your business, getting ready for the new season, charting the course, and taking care of your people.
We are here to help you every step of the way. Full steam ahead!