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March 10, 2006

An almost-great leader

Prompted by Royce’s blog entry on a great follower, I decided to jot down what I consider to be the essential qualities of a great leader. However, this is more of an extrapolation of my personal experiences, so my objective is to depict an attainable (and practical) target for leaders to aspire to. By the way, this is both my personal goal as well as what I try to convey to those whom I have had the pleasure to teach.

Since Tango is a social dance, to me it has two important ingredients: a “social” part and then the actual “dancing” part. Both needs to be present. It follows naturally that a good leader needs to have certain qualities which enable him to interact with people – the behavioural aspects – but also, and necessarily, some degree of competence in the mechanics – the technique – of moving on the dance floor. Accordingly a good leader is someone who

  • has confidence in himself and how he guides his partner;
  • shows respect for his partner and the available dance space he is in;
  • remembers to have fun with his partner during the dance;
  • has patience for his partner;
  • demonstrates certain creativity in his interpretation of music;
  • while leading, focuses more on clearly indicating his intentions and guiding his partner, than showing off his own fancy footwork;
  • has a comfortable/comforting and steady embrace without being forceful; and finally
  • has good balance.

While I am deliberately avoiding any mention of knowledge of steps/figures in the list above, it is not that I loathe interesting figures or advocate that every leader stick to a simple repertoire all the time. In fact, I don’t believe that complex figures and a great leader are mutually exclusive at all. My overriding wish is to see people able to dance to the best of their ability, both musically and technically, and at the same time respect their partners. In this way, I am certain magic will be created on the dance floor from time to time.

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