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February 4, 2004


The question of leader/follower in Tango has been on my mind recently. Issues like the ‘intention’, who initiates, leader following the follower, etc., become familiar and thankfully clearer concepts after a while.

At the same time, at the work place, leadership is also an important topic. However, and rather strangely in hindsight, up till now, have not really connected the two perspectives of leadership.

Was just reading an article in Harvard Business Review (December 2001, Best of HBR) entitled ‘The work of leadership’. The following quote pretty much sums up the key points of the article:

“Followers want comfort, stability and solutions from their leaders. But that is babysitting. Real leaders ask hard questions and knock people out of their comfort zones. Then they manage the resulting distress.”

Against the conventional thinking, the authors of this article advocates delegating some of the responsibility back to the follower. In other words, there is the possibility of cultivating ‘grassroots’ leaders. Ultimately, leadership as seen in this light requires a learning strategy, and one may be able to lead “with no more than a question”!

There may indeed be some parallels for Tango here: returning the responsibility to the follower. After all, Tango has been described as ‘Two hearts moving as one’. However, I also like the idea of NOT having to babysit…

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