Business consultancy appoints classical ballet dancer

August 15, 2008

A former ballet dancer has been appointed to apply his leadership skills to help individuals and teams survive and thrive in corporate environments. Lee Fisher joins the ranks of horse whisperers, therapists, actors, poets, magicians, entrepreneurs, explorers, firewalkers and voice coaches who have appeared in support of leadership development courses

Our eagle-eyed technology correspondent sent us the story of Lee Fisher, the latest addition to the ranks of personal development consultants. No, I don’t know whether there is a technology link, or whether he just likes ballet.

According to the publicity release, Lee has joined Lane4 which was co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Adrian Moorhouse, and Sport Psychologist Graham Jones. Lee is artistic director of Freefall Dance Company, a company for young dancers with severe learning disabilities.

Lee trained at the Royal Ballet School and enjoyed 17 years as a soloist with the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Since retiring from full time performing in 2005, Lee has made guest appearances in London, Shanghai, Birmingham and Oxford.

He was the Dance Fellow 2005/06 on the Core Leadership Programme – an initiative that identifies and develops leaders in the cultural sector. The programme included leadership training, mentoring and placements at the Eden Project and BBC2.

Ruth Cavender, head of human resources at Lane4 commented: “We’re always on the look out for talented individuals. We’re not necessarily looking for qualified trainers … we’re seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds who don’t necessarily [have formal qualifications but] have a ‘degree in excellence.’ From our experience, candidates from the worlds of psychology, organisational development, performance and elite sport make great [Lane4] performance consultants.”

Ballet and rugby training

The story took me back many years to a failing rugby team in Wales. Shock tactics were called for. After one defeat too many for the exasperated coach, players turned up for evening training, to find they were to be taken through their paces by a frail-looking waif who turned out to be borrowed from a school of ballet down by Cardiff.

The puzzled and grizzled forwards were told that their line-out leaps work was in need of improvement. They would, after the right training, leap like salmon. Their new coach explained that they would first have to learn some new exercises he was going to show them.

An hour later they dragged their sorry limbs off the pitch. Ballet training did have something to teach the local rugby heroes. It taught them they were not as fit as they thought they were.

I’d like to say the team went on to win the Welsh league, and that it was all down to ballet training. But they didn’t. Even in the interests of a good story, I must confess that the training never went much further than a short sharp shock, and a news story in the Western Mail, that weekend.

Leadership Development and Ballet

Why not? As I mulled over this news item I recalled the more recent story of Tai Chi and ‘cow whispering’ as the secret weapon for a rugby team. After which, the application of ballet principles for leadership development did not seem quite so bizarre.

I started listing other leadership development approaches I have come across. Sporting celeberities are taken for granted as possible leadership role models. So are military heroes. But what about horse whisperers, actors, fire-walkers, poets, magicians, entrepreneurs, explorers, and now ballet dancers?

Which says a lot for the belief in the leadership development fraternity in the transfer of learning from one field to another. Or maybe I should say, from one stage to another.

Acknowledgements

To Jeff Butler, Editor R&D Management, for sending in the story, which can also be traced to a personnel review item.

To San Francisco Sentinel for the Ballet image