LS Oct blog image 1Over the past decade, I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to consult with many for- and nonprofit boards and chief executives. I’ve also had the opportunity to serve as a board member and work with executive directors. 

Being a board member is some of the most difficult and challenging work that I’ve ever done.

Being on a board or serving as a chief executive is no small task. The field of board governance and the writing that surrounds it is as complex as brain surgery and can be as opaque as a starless night in the mountains. We need a simpler approach that is easier to understand.

The concept of pas de deux (pɑ d(ə) dø) or the dance of two, came to me a few years ago, when working with a CEO and the firm she ran. The dance of two comes from ballet and describes the movement between two dancers who are in step with each other. In fact, some translate it as the step of two

Over the years, I’ve noticed several environments and behaviors that seem to make the relationship between the board and the chief executive go a little smoother, flow more freely, and achieve greater results than others. During the next three months, we will explore these environments and corresponding behaviors together, giving examples of how they work and the outcomes that can be gained.

It is essential that we get the relationship between the chief executive and the board right; the implementation of our organization’s mission depends on it!

Here is a framework to whet your appetite. 

LS Oct blog image 2Creating an environment that is open, clear, and aligned takes time. It also takes vulnerability, communication, and commitment, three behaviors that can be challenging even on our best days.

The dance of two is an excellent metaphor for board governance. It manifests itself differently with every board and with every executive. Just like in dance – every dancer is different. They are bringing their own talents, desires, and uniqueness to the dance floor.

It’s time we honor that.

Have a question, thought, or example you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please comment below. You may also reach me directly at

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Lon L. Swartzentruber
Post by Lon L. Swartzentruber
October 29, 2019
I walk alongside leaders, listening to understand their challenges, and helping them lead healthy organizations that flourish.