We are all leaders in one way or another. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a leader but I’m certain you are presented with opportunities to lead. We are leaders as managers, as role models, as parents, as teachers, as friends, and even as strangers. Sometimes we don’t want to lead because we feel we’re not prepared. And sometimes we take that leadership role despite that lack of preparedness. Whichever scenario you find yourself in, there are 3 qualities that can help you successfully fill that role as a leader.
3 Qualities of Good Leaders:
Respect is one element that underlines everything I do and believe in, especially when it pertains to interpersonal relationships and interactions. The only way for me to truly deliver something of quality is if I actually have respect for the other person: their time, their effort, their energy. It doesn’t matter how much I know or how often I have the opportunity to be in a position of authority over others. If respect is not the basis of my approach, it is difficult to build rapport and establish trust. Respect for the person I’m interacting with keeps me honest and focuses my efforts on actually helping instead of lying and pretending to help.
I’m sure we all know some incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable people. Those friends or colleagues who we turn to when we need answers. They have a wealth of information and we know that they could help others learn and grow, if only they would actually share that information. But then we hear them speak and we realize, despite all that they know, they are not confident in that knowledge, and therefore, have a difficult time expressing themselves. As such, they have a difficult time leading others or gaining people’s trust to believe what they say.
The inverse is true as well. I know plenty of people who don’t know much about a topic but because they are beaming with confidence, and offer all sorts of advice with that confidence, they are never short of followers and believers. A combination of the two would be a healthy medium: having some knowledge on a topic and feeling confident in that knowledge to be able to express it to others.
When it comes to leading people, it’s essential that we have some understanding of where they are coming from. What are their goals and aspirations? What are some of the challenges they face? How do they feel in the face of those challenges? If we can understand those influences, motivations, and those emotions in other people’s lives, it becomes easier to lead from a position that is not only relevant to them but also relatable.
There are many other qualities that are important to being good leaders that we can delve into. These 3 were the first that came to mind in a People of Latin interview I did with Brydel Miguel of Gwepa. When he asked, I realized that the way I’ve been able to truly enrich other people’s lives was through respectful interactions, a desire to truly understand where they are coming from and what they need, and confidence in what I know and my desire and ability to help them.
Leadership for Dance Instructors
Dance instructors are one of the most common examples of leaders in the dance community. We have a platform, a following, and are positioned as authority figures.
I’m often asked, how can we, as instructors, be better leaders for our community? One way is by using the 3 qualities of respect, confidence, and empathy.
First, we’ve got to look at our students not just as sources of income, but as people who are setting aside their valuable time and money to invest in their growth. Our students are not forced to listen to us. They are choosing to listen to us. Respecting the value of their time, money, and their choice is a better way to approach that relationship than to take those things for granted.
As dance teachers, we are not expected to know every single thing about dance. When we impose that pressure upon ourselves, we either never end up teaching what we’re good at, or we try to teach everything, and do it poorly. The process of learning is eternal, however, along the way, there are definitely things that we become very good at. Things that we have learned and understand better than others. And it is in those things that we should place our confidence when we teach. If you’re great at the basics, teach the basics. If you’re great at footwork, teach footwork. Keep learning but don’t force yourself to teach things you aren’t comfortable with yet. Remember, if you respect your students’ time, you will not want to waste it.
We’ve all learned in different ways. Some of us had teachers bark at us in class. Some of us had teachers who spoke softly and coddled us. Some of us had every type of teacher in between. Even if the way we learned helped us grow that doesn’t mean it will be a perfect fit for all of our students. Being mindful of our students’ needs, their feelings, and their challenges will help us take them to their limits and push past them. We can help them reach new heights and exercise their potential by nurturing their growth instead of breaking them down.