3 Traits of Ensemble Whisperers

Written by Amelia Terrapin

July 23, 2021

When I talk about ensembles, here’s what I mean: an ensemble is a group that co-creates the emergent future together inspired by their shared purpose – vulnerably, daringly, and with gusto.

I’ve been geeking out on this for awhile, tracking the patterns of ensemble leadership out in the wild and in my own practice. I spent 15 years in dance companies, studying the culture that gives rise to such boundless creativity and moving works of art. Given the complexity of our current times, I’m more committed than ever to inoculating purpose-driven teams with the connected and generative culture of dance ensembles. 

What I’ve learned is that ensemble leadership isn’t some special, proprietary technique that you can go to school to learn.

It’s the natural, relational impulses that arise within you as you settle more deeply into your own creative calling to be of service.

Below I share the top 3 traits that I’ve noticed in ensemble whisperers… maybe you’ll recognize some of them in yourself, and/or others in your life.  Remember: you don’t have to be in a traditional, formal leadership role to practice ensemble leadership.  It’s not just for “bosses”!

1. Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast

At some level, you recognize that the culture of your team is the foundation of everything you do. You know that taking the time to build trust on your team is a worthy investment. While others might say there’s no time for personal check-ins or inviting feedback, you know you can’t afford NOT to nurture the fabric of your team!

2. The Thrill of Power-Over is Gone

You yearn for alternatives to traditional top-down management methods. Your instincts are to share power and show up with more questions than answers. When tension or crisis strikes, you don’t reach for the old playbook of protect and defend…instead you do your best to get vulnerable and curious.

3. This is Serious… Let’s Play!

You take your changework seriously… after all, aren’t people and planet relying on you to create systems that are more life-giving and caring? And… you have a hunch that tapping into your team’s playfulness fuels you with the joy, creativity, and aliveness necessary to sustain serious work.

Ensembles create the conditions for our most empowered, most creative selves to come forward and come together into collaborative bodies to reinvent our world. 

Start to notice how it’s already happening on your team, in your community and even in your family.

If becoming more bold and creative in your changework appeals to you, I encourage you to cultivate yourself and your team as ensemble leaders. Join the waitlist for next cohort of the Bold Moves Course and we’ll let you know when we open registration:

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