Insightful Ideas

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Your Chance to Eavesdrop at our Virtual Water Cooler!

One of the elements that is often absent from virtual leadership development programs is the lively “oh, by the way” exchanges — the hallway conversations that frequently occur between participants at in-person programs. One approach Insight Experience has taken to combat this is to have participants engage in Colleague Conversations or Virtual Watercooler Chats within our learning platform. One of the most insightful conversations leaders explore during our Executing Strategy leadership development program is about balancing Dance Floor time with Balcony time. If you don’t already know the Balcony metaphor, check it out! 


Now, let’s listen in on a few interactions from around the world about how these leaders manage that balance — and where they continue to struggle.

Staying Connected

“Coaching a team member is a great way to stay in touch with the day-to-day and also a way to share some balcony views to the next class of leaders.”
— North America

“I heard a quote recently that really struck me: ‘We spend so much time dealing with the urgent things that we never get to spend time on the important things.’ If something strategic comes to mind in the middle of a crisis or in my normal daily work, I write it down on a running list I keep to discuss with my manager and then revisit it.”
— North America

“I have used 1:1 time with my direct manager (weekly) and skip-level manager (monthly) to have strategic discussions and get feedback relative to the ‘balcony view.’ These meetings give me a chance to inquire about strategic view from their standpoints as well.”
— North America

Specific Scheduling

“It's aggressive/proactive diary management for me — carving out a couple of hours a week to think strategically and encouraging my staff members to do the same.”

“One of the hardest parts is finding uninterrupted time for the balcony thinking. I often have to explicitly schedule it or it will be consumed by something urgent in the day-to-day. In the COVID world, I often have to do it on a walk, away from all of the Teams/Jabber messages that cut into the thinking.”
— North America

“Carving out specific slots in the week for thinking time helps. Using 10 mins of an hour-long 1:1 with a colleague can be an easy way to incorporate this as well. This is a very hard thing to do when we are running with back-to-back meetings and busy with business!”

Developing People

“I try to delegate and coach my team to take on more of the unending action on the dance floor. I get away with it about 60% of the time but get stuck with those chewy chunks that need a perspective that only comes with experience.”
— North America

“A strong team creates headspace simply by being able to step in and take up the slack. The ability to skip meetings where you know that one of your team is qualified and competent to attend in your absence creates capacity for you and also builds their confidence and independence as leaders. It’s an important part of succession planning that has ancillary benefits.”

“Giving stretch assignments, rather than doing them all yourself, also allows for some new ideas and solutions.”
— North America

Thinking on Two Levels

“Let each view inform the other: Did the balcony view give you some new information? Did the dancefloor enable you to really see certain challenges in detail? Don’t allow the dancefloor to be your reality. It might be, but check, challenge, validate.”

“The only way one can gain both a clearer view of reality and the bigger-picture perspective is to be both among dancers and up on the balcony. That is the magic part, going back and forth between two and using one to leverage the other. As a leader, you need to figure out the upstream and downstream impacts of the decisions you are making for tasks in hand. This will help you in in knowing ‘when to hit the dance floor’ and when to move to the balcony -- when you need to adopt the strategic perspective, while remaining connected with the daily work load.”

Ongoing Challenges – Deeper Balcony Thinking

“Another challenge is, when on the balcony, are we actually doing what we are supposed to? I find myself sometimes focused on my other self, who is still on the dance floor. Am I doing the right things? Sometimes the mind wanders to all the hypothetical what-ifs and meandering from the real task at hand. So, the question is: How do we make the best use of the balcony time once we get there? How do we measure to gauge effectiveness of our balcony time?”

“Making sure I have one-on-one conversations with the partners on the dance floor gives me the best of both worlds. They can give me their dance floor view, and I can be on the ‘mezzanine,’ listening to their story and how it ties in with the bigger picture.”
North America

Mezzanine is an interesting way to put it. In order to appreciate either the dance floor or the balcony, one needs to experience both. Dance moves that appear simple from the balcony may actually be very complex.”
– North America

Do you feel like you’re constantly dancing as fast as you can? These insights from our participants can remind you to step onto the balcony more often. Or if you feel disconnected, these tricks may help you to “get down” with the dancers in order to gain their perspectives.

For more about how an Insight Experience Executing Strategy program can benefit your leaders, click below. 

Executing Strategy Leadership Development Program

Kristin Leydig Bryant (Blog Author) and Leah Carey (Video Author and Voiceover) are both expert facilitators  with Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen, and strategy execution.