Risk Leaders Need to Dance the TANGO

Risk Doctor Briefing


Dr David Hillson, PMI Fellow, HonFAPM, FIRM

The Risk Doctor Partnership

United Kingdom


Risk practitioners seek inspiration from many different places, but not many look to the world of professional dancing to improve their leadership effectiveness. An innovative workshop has recently been developed by LeaderTango (www.leadertango.com), which uses the Argentine Tango as a metaphor for the leadership strengths and skills needed to succeed in today’s business world.

When two dancers perform the Argentine Tango, it is a very intense and passionate event. They are completely focused on each other, fusing their movements into a complex unity that tells a powerful story. One of the dancers takes the lead, with the other following closely. To dance the Argentine Tango well, five characteristics are essential:

  1. Trust. The two dancers must trust each other completely as they perform, with each one relying on the other to move in the right way at the right time, providing support where necessary.
  1. Agility. Argentine Tango involves fast moves, rapid changes of direction, and a complex series of steps, kicks and turns. These are not possible unless both dancers are highly agile.
  1. Naturalness. Although the dance is complex, when it is done well it seems simple and natural, with two people moving seamlessly in synchrony, telling a story of love and passion.
  1. Guidance. The dance relies on understanding which partner is leading, with the other following closely to create perfect harmony between the two.
  1. Ownership. Dancers show complete commitment to the dance, putting themselves whole-heartedly into each move, expressing a deep connection with each other and the dance.

These concepts can be applied to improve leadership in many different situations, including risk leaders who need to steer others towards more effective risk management.


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About the Author

Dr. David Hillson

The Risk Doctor




Dr David Hillson CMgr FRSA FIRM FCMI HonFAPM PMI-Fellow is The Risk Doctor (www.risk-doctor.com).  As an international risk consultant, David is recognised as a leading thinker and expert practitioner in risk management. He consults, writes and speaks widely on the topic and he has made several innovative contributions to the field. David’s motto is “Understand profoundly so you can explain simply”, ensuring that his work represents both sound thinking and practical application.

David Hillson has over 25 years’ experience in risk consulting and he has worked in more than 40 countries, providing support to clients in every major industry sector, including construction, mining, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, financial services, transport, fast-moving consumer goods, energy, IT, defence and government. David’s input includes strategic direction to organisations facing major risk challenges, as well as tactical advice on achieving value and competitive advantage from effectively managing risk.

David’s contributions to the risk discipline over many years have been recognised by a range of awards, including “Risk Personality of the Year” in 2010-11. He received both the PMI Fellow award and the PMI Distinguished Contribution Award from the Project Management Institute (PMI®) for his work in developing risk management. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the UK Association for Project Management (APM), where he has actively led risk developments for nearly 20 years.  David Hillson is an active Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM), and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) to contribute to its Risk Commission. He is also a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and a Member of the Institute of Directors (IOD).

Dr Hillson can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works previously published in the PM World Journal by Dr David Hillson, visit his author showcase at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-david-hillson/