Irrespective of the size of your dance school, as soon as you decide to employ or contract staff, the nature of your communication and leadership skills is critical.
Many of us school owners started our schools with a purpose to teach dance our way. We prided ourselves on our creative and technical differences by striving to out do our own training, passing our passion and dreams onto the next generation.
So how do you employ the right staff who will share the vision and ethos you have for your school? How do you convey your standards of practice to your staff and ensure they deliver their best practise? Over the next few months we will be exploring these very topics, but firstly, I will let you in on a secret:
The Pain Story
Every person is motivated by a past pain story! If you want to know how to best inspire your staff, you need to know what motivates them. I have found that often motivation is driven by pain, sugar coated with an inspiring vision of why someone loves to teach. You have your own, I have mine, everybody has a pain story whether they realise it or not.
What is a pain story?
A pain story is an unresolved misperception from the past and if you want your teachers to be the best, you need to know how to weed it out and assist them in transforming their pain story into a power story. For example, for the first four years of owning Dance Dynamics in Byron Bay I was secretly ashamed that I didn’t pursue my dream of being an accomplished ballerina. Instead of focusing on all of the fabulous training and performance experiences I had had, I focused on creating excuses as to why I didn’t achieve that goal. I needed someone to blame in order to feel justified in staying small and not pushing through my own emotional fear of failure.
How does this affect your students? As teachers we not only train the body, we train the mind. Assessing the student’s physical weaknesses and strengths is what we are good at, however as the mind governs the body understanding cognitive thinking patterns of our students will further assist them in achieving their goals. Understanding our own patterns of thinking and learning to transcend limiting patterns (including pain stories) will enable us to become highly effective. So what is your secret pain story? Where do you feel inadequate? Not good enough? If you still don’t know, observe your language for one week and notice where you constantly need to talk yourself up to others or even to yourself in your own head? Where do you put yourself down? Use yourself as the experiment before you begin your team building process. After all, how can you build a team without knowing how to build up yourself?
1. Once you have identified what your pain story is, ask yourself ‘what the benefit is to having that story’? How is it keeping you small? What is it assisting you avoid?
2. See the other side to your story. If you perceived yourself as unsuccessful see where you were/are successful. An emotion is seeing one side of a situation. When you train your mind to see both sides you can turn emotion into purpose and power.
Building your Team Starts With You
Once you know the pain story and how it limits you and you have flipped your pain into power revisit your dance school goals for 2011. What would you like to achieve for yourself? For your students? For your staff? And for your school? The function of your school is a direct reflection of you. Anything you have not emotionally resolved in your mind and heart will be expressed by means of conflict within your school through your staff, students or parents.
Once you have completed this process on yourself then take your staff through the same questions. Observe their language and behaviours to detect that both are congruent.
Additional questions to ask staff and yourself

  1. Why do you most love about teaching?
  2. What do you most dislike about teaching?
  3. What is your biggest strength as a teacher?
  4. What is your biggest weakness as a teacher?

Stay tuned for next month’s issue of Building Your Team From the Inside Out In 2011 – Linking Staff Values.
Kate Histon is a Performance Coach for dancers, artists, teachers, entertainers and teenagers in life and performance. She has been the owner and Director of Dance Dynamics in Byron Bay since 2000. Kate is a certified Royal Academy of Dance teacher and Human Behaviour facilitator in the Demartini Method(TM) and NLP NS.
This article is © copyright to Kate Histon 2011 on behalf of DanceLife Australia. To copy or distribute any part of this article you must first seek permission by the author Kate Histon

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