Dance and Leadership


Claus Springborg and Ian Sutherland from IEDC-Bled School of Management, Slovenia, have used dance exercises in their management education courses to develop managers’ aesthetic reflexivity and agency and to improve their managerial practice. Without understanding movement and gesture, a leader cannot see, for example, subtle differences in the tone of a colleague’s voice or in the body postures of employees or customers.

Organizational Aesthetics, Vol. 5 No. 1 (2016). /index.php/oa/issue/view/5

Springborg and Sutherland suggest that educators could have reflective discussions after the dancing so that the managers can identify what sensory experiences they are attracted to and how they can be used as a tool to become better leaders. However, the authors hint that there may not be a need for reflective conversations or written reflections through journals after the dance exercises. In fact, they suggest talking about learning, rather than staying with the bodily experience, may even limit the learning potential.

Some students in the IEDC-Bled School of Management participated in this arts-based learning strategy led by Springborg and Sutherland in 2014. They were taught simple dance exercises such as contact improvisation or basic tango steps to facilitate conversations and reflection on leadership. The conversations were about different facets of leadership so that students could become more aware of the patterns (conscious or unconscious) relating to ‘leading’ and ‘following’ in their own work lives.


Claus Springborg and Ian Sutherland. “Teaching MBAs Aesthetic Agency Through Dance.” Organizational Aesthetics 5, no.1 (2015): 94–113.
Claus Springborg and Donna Ladkin. “Realizing the Potential of Art-based Methods in Managerial Learning.” Academy of Management Proceedings, Vol.2014, no.1 (2014).