What is Getting On The Balcony?

Getting on the Balcony is a metaphor first used by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky to describe the ability of a leader to see the bigger picture of what is going on around them.

Imagine yourself on a crowded dance floor. There is a lot of movement and energy. It is hard to see very far because you are surrounded by other bodies. It is very easy to get caught up in the emotion around us. However, if we move off the dance floor for a minute and get on a balcony overlooking it, then as an observer and not a dancer, we begin to get a different perspective.

Our work lives are very like being on a dancefloor. One of the dangers of leadership is being caught up in what is going on around us and being heavily influenced by any emotions that are triggered around us. Leaders need to have the ability to change perspective from one participant to observer so they can access what is happening around them. This will ultimately lead to more informed responses and better decision-making.

Getting On The Balcony Exercise )

This exercise can be done during a meeting when you want to gain another perspective. It can also be used at other times.

1. Take a moment to pause and allow yourself to get off the dance floor. Take a few deep breathes and notice any tension you are holding in your body.

2. Become curious ask the following questions;

• What is happening around me at the moment? (What am I seeing on the dance floor? Consider what emotions are present in other people? What is being said and what is not being said? Who is talking and who is not saying anything? What is the underlying meaning?)

• What is happening inside of me right now? (What emotions am I feeling? Have I been triggered by anything or anyone?)

3. Now consider what is my best response?

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