A Leadership Lesson on Dancing and D&I from Dallas Mavericks CEO

“Dance like nobody is watching,” is what we say to encourage someone to embrace and celebrate the rhythm of life. For most, it’s easier said than done.

But not Cynt Marshall. The Dallas Mavericks’ dynamic CEO lives everyday dancing to her own beat. Be careful, she may invite you to do likewise.

Her persistent spirit not only dances like nobody is watching, but she dances when everybody is watching. Marshall shared her inspirational leadership style to uplift more than 1,600 business and community leaders at the 2020 Dallas Regional Chamber Annual Meeting in January. And before I knew it, I found myself on a stage in the center of the room kicking to the “Cupid Shuffle” with her and a dozen other brave souls who decided (in full business attire) to dance it out in front of their peers, clients and bosses.

Dallas Mavs Cynt Diversity & Inclusion Dance
Cynt Marshall on stage with JSer Heather Hooper (middle) and other Dallas professionals.

It was, and still is, the most memorable Dallas Regional Chamber luncheon I’ve ever attended. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how Marshall took something fun and high energy like dancing to weave a greater message, challenging leaders in Dallas to be intentional about diversity and inclusion. “Diversity is being invited to the party,” she said. “Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Since Marshall started running point with the Mavericks, she’s been running a full court press to distinguish and prioritize shaping the culture and diversity in the organization. Her leadership team is now comprised of 50% women and 47% minorities, empowering them to have a voice within the organization. Marshall said that to serve as a good leader, it’s more than just inviting someone to the party but showing them how to dance so they can shine. She’s not only teaching the Dallas NBA organization how to dance, but also showing others what a full dance card can do for your business.

I am proud of my team at Jackson Spalding for turning up the music to fulfill this need. As an independent marketing communications agency in Atlanta, Dallas and Athens, we recently deepened our own bench with an official Diversity & Inclusion team to show us how to dance. We are rooted in finding “a better way” in all that we do for ourselves and our clients. And Cynt Marshall’s message of confidence and authenticity, speaks to why we do it. One of the best business lessons she shared is to be your true self. So, when someone invites you to dance, get up from the table and dance like nobody is watching. Soon it won’t feel so terrifying or awkward, because everyone else will be dancing with you.