I’ve recently taken to salsa dancing (it’s awesome!). What I found the most interesting connection is how in salsa, the very first lesson is one of leadership, but often times in business and marketing, it can be one of the last – almost an afterthought.
In salsa, the man leads. Or at least he’s supposed to…
Sometimes women try and lead themselves, but it’s usually because they haven’t been shown how to properly follow, or they are dancing with a crummy leader. Worse, when given a lousy leader, they end up leading. Not fun, not pretty, and probably a little aggravating for both parties.
In business, the provider leads. Or at least they’re supposed to…
One party leads, one party follows. Ideally, we all want our clients to follow us, but sometimes they lead, don’t follow, or aren’t being properly led. They are paying for our expertise to LEAD them to the results they want, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.
In salsa, I’m guilty of leading myself, leading them, and just being a lousy dancer. I’m also the same dancer that can keep rhythm, timing and remember all my moves and I follow very well. I dance far better with excellent leaders and consider it successful and fun. I also dance far worse with crummy leaders and I consider it a disaster and I don’t like dancing with that person anymore, and thusly avoid it.
I don’t want to dance with a lousy leader any more than I want to do business with one.
In business, as the client, I’ve been guilty of leading myself, leading the provider and just being a lousy client. BUT, in the same, I am the same client that can be amazing to do business with and do everything I’m supposed to do. (are you seeing the pattern yet?) I do business far more successfully with excellent leaders, and consider it successful and fun. I also do business far worse with crummy leaders and I consider it a disaster and don’t like doing business with that entity anymore – and thusly avoid it.
The difference is in the leader.
How does one effecively lead?
To lead well (in either dancing or business, actually), you must see what it is like to follow you. You must see your shortcomings, your mistakes, and your flagrant displays of arrogance that hold you back. You must be able to ask for and accept cricism, and put it into action. A truly REMARKABLE leader will know how to follow, know what it is like to follow, and continually strive for excellence – never settling for “acceptable” or “good enough.” Ultimately your goal is to make follower look like gold.
Leadership takes PRACTICE. You can’t just do it a little and expect that it’s enough, permanent or even good enough for your followers. Always seek to improve and strive to be the BEST and most effective leader possible, and you’ll make the experience (be it business or dancing) all that much better for both parties.
Some Specific Ideas
- Conduct customer satisfaction surveys PERSONALLY
- Ask your clients the hard questions that you may not want to hear the answers to
- Work towards making sure you know what you’re doing and can truly fulfill the clients’ needs
- Admit when you’re wrong – humility goes a long way in leadership
- Acknowledge what things you are great at, and focus on those, allowing other people to be gifted in the areas you are not
Obviously there are more ideas than this out there, but this is a good place to start.