With power comes responsibility, they say. Traditionally, the man was the head of the household. It was his responsibility to do what was best for his family, not just think of himself. In response, the wife and children would respect his authority, trusting that he would put their good ahead of his own. That’s why people, who earn their pay from our taxes, are called public servants. It’s for the same reason we call the heads of government ministers. One person grants authority to another, on the condition that they use it for the benefit of both.

It’s the same with leading and following. Sure, the leader directs the follower: when they agree to dance together, the leader indicates where he wants the follower to go. But she decides (1) what to do when she gets there; (2) how she wants to get there; and, (3) whether she wants to go there at all. This is because the follower has the real power. The leader can only ask her to move … mmm, swivel … er, where was I? Oh yes, … ask her to move; but ultimately, the follow must trust the leader to lead her.

So, then, what’s the leader to do for the follower? Apart from crawl abjectly so they dance with us? Leads have to do at least seven different things at once, but relating to the follower, there are three essentials. First, protect her: bouncing your partner off other dancers just isn’t grouse. Second, make her look good: that’s the only reason you’re there. Third, pay attention to her. That’s what you’re trying to get other people to do, after all.

Oh sure, there’s something in there about enjoying yourself. If you can multi-task well, no problem. But the follower’s needs – and even her wants – come before the leader’s. Lead well, and you’ll never be short of partners. Before long, everything will come together, and you will be enjoying yourself. That’s the theory, anyway.

copyright Troy Grisgonelle 2006.

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