Last month I was forced into a dance lesson. Well, not forced. Actually yes I was; I was forced. My Mother-in-Law had a birthday coming up and my wife thought it would be a great idea to surprise her with dance lessons. I thought it was a great idea and I knew my Mother-in-Law would love it until I found out I had to participate. Now let me be clear, I’m not your normal “two left feet” kind of dancer. I’m way worse than that. I never have been a good dancer and I have never liked dancing but my wife really wanted to do it so I oh so reluctantly agreed. There were eight of us in all, My Wife, her brother, sister, their spouses and my Father & Mother-in Law. I can honestly say; I was in good company because as far as the men involved there was no danger of any of us making a career out of dancing.
The lesson was in Country Swing dancing. Although there is not much chance I will make it a hobby, I did learn a lot and I actually had a lot of fun.
I made an interesting observation while taking the lesson. I learned the leader leads and the partner follows and gets all the glory. I thought that was a little counter intuitive. I immediately thought the leader should get all the glory. I mean, the leader is the one who takes the most risk. The leader sets the tone of the dance. The leaders’ leadership is what determines the success or failure of the dance.
Consequently, my responsibility was to lead my wife through the dance. I had to make sure my footwork was right or my wife would mess up. If she messed up on her own, it was not that big of a deal because she could get right back into rhythm with me. But, if I messed up it was much more difficult for us to recover. Also, as the leader I noticed that my wife got to spin and do other showy stuff. You would think the leader would get to be in the lime light. But nooooo, I didn’t get to do any of that (Not that I wanted to of course). But my point is, as the leader, my job was to make my partner look good. If she looked graceful, I was doing a good job. If she was out of step it meant I was doing a poor job.
I think dancing is a pretty good metaphor for leadership. As a leader, do you lead in a way that makes it easy for your partner to look graceful or do you try to steal the spotlight? Do you focus on modeling the behavior you would like to see from your team? A good leader not only sets the rhythm for their partner they also make sure their partner gets recognized for staying in rhythm.
How is your footwork? Are you setting the example you would like people to follow?
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