Why watching Theresa May’s attempted dance reminds us to learn a few new moves

Published on 3 October 2018 by Adam Leigh

The lights dimmed.

The soft home-counties voice joyously asked the assembled delegates to welcome their Prime Minister to the stage.

Suddenly, in a break with the traditional anthem of “I Vow to Thee My Country”, the irresistible refrain of Abba’s “Dancing Queen” pounded through the speaker system leaving the Tunbridge Wells local party, quite frankly, rather angry.

In strode our glorious leader, basking in the brief adulation of her momentarily united party. And then her body started to spasm. Suddenly she wasn’t the Boadicea of Brexit. She was Peter Crouch doing the robot by the corner flag. She showed some rhythm. Unfortunately, it was a different rhythm to the beat of the music. 

As I write this, several hours later, there is a Central Office post-mortem under way. Everyone is jabbing an accusatory (and there is nothing worse than an accusing Tory) finger at Ivor the Intern, whose idea it was “lighten the mood” through a nod to popular culture. (Please note: “Dancing Queen” first came out in 1976)

“I don’t know how it went wrong? I showed her a couple of tapes of Brendon and Flavia out of “Strictly” and told her to just prove that her hips, unlike the right wingers in the party, don’t lie.”

This footage will live for a long time and will be seen as a sign of genuine misguided intent. It begs the question, when should you try to do something that you are not really capable of in the pursuit of career success?

The FT reported in Feb that up to 70 million workers may have to get new jobs by 2030 due to automation. It concluded the sad inevitability that us oldies will of course struggle much more than those pesky flexible Millennials

In a Manpower survey, 93 per cent of millennials said they would spend their own time and money to learn new skills. According to Capgemini more than half of digitally focused workers claim to do so already.

We know that projections for continuous employment suggest that it will be a career survival of not the fittest but the most adaptable. In short, we need to embrace new challenges wherever we can find them This has several applications for both potential employers and employees.

If you are ambitious for your own success, you will need to actively solicit the surprising commercial challenges that don’t necessarily flow in a linear and expected fashion.

If you are building the talent within your organisation, you must not be superficially prejudiced against CVS with shorter or disparate experiences. You need to be able to see the quest for new skills potentially ahead of the candidates who have trodden the expected path.

In the meantime, I salute Theresa May. I won “Best Dancing Dad” at my son’s school fete in 2007. It’s not easy to dance in public when people laugh at you.

(And if you haven’t seen it, here’s a link https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45725615)