“In a recent coaching conversation, I was impressed with how well a pastor had lined up his whole church year in advance. He had themes for each month laid out neatly in a liturgical calendar with sermon topics, scriptures, and organizational tasks. The sequence made logical sense; it was ambitious and hopeful.
However, this same clergyperson was complaining about how sick he had been, how fatigued he was feeling, and how often he was having to cancel meetings because he just could not keep up.
I told him I was impressed by his comprehensive and integrated plan—but added that there is a difference between a march and a dance. In a march, we’re leading a parade. We need to get everyone lined up and in order. Everything must be on schedule. We need to leave at a specific time in order to arrive on time. A march can be exhilarating—and exhausting.
In a dance, one has a general sense of purpose. Choreography brings out the creative capacities of dancers. As a leader of a dance you build on others’ movements, add to it, highlight certain phrases, and respond to what shows up. You can feel inspired (“in-spirited”) when mutual responsiveness leads to discovery and makes space for accomplishments that were not pre-imagined.
As leaders, we all need a mix of “march” and “dance.” One is not better than the other—but in order to be more resilient in our leadership and to foster our own well-being, most of us need to cultivate a broader repertoire.”