chapter  3
33 Pages

Understanding the Rhythms of Human Interaction

Artists of all types, but especially musicians and dancers, often talk ab out rhythm. Leaders rarely do so. However, rhythm is at the core of human life, a gateway to the emotional experience of individuals, and, for that reason, rhythm is central to the experience of leadership. From the steady beat of our hearts to the clicks of our keyboards, from the cycles of our sleep to the pace of our work, rhythm forms the framework of our experience. As choreographer Matthew Neenan pointed out when we asked about rhythm, "Even in a lawyer's conference room, there's adefinite

dance going on among the people who are speaking and voicing their opinions. There' s adefinite rhythm." Success in leadership is dependent on the leader's recognizing, understanding, and engaging the rhythms of human interaction. A key element of the leader's capacity to influence the emotional tenor of a group is the capacity to understand and to shape the group' s rhythm. To be able to grasp the rhythmic structure of a group or organization and to understand the complexities of rhythms as they interact with one another allows the leader to see beneath the surface and to penetrate the superficial elements that draw our immediate attention, but may be largely irrelevant to the underlying movement of the group.