Things followers look for in a great leader
Bachata,  Leading

The 3 things followers look for in a great leader

Guest post by Yann Schaub

It happens that sometimes leaders don’t have a clear idea about what followers look for in a great leader.

So that’s why, today, i propose you that Yann Schaub answers to that question. Yann is a passionate social dancer and runs a weekly newsletter called “The confident lead” that helps guys become the confident leader that every girl loves to dance with. In this post, he will share with us his findings and the top 3 things followers look for in a good leader.

So now, i’m giving the floor to Yann, let’s begin !

If you’ve been dancing for a while you must have wondered what followers appreciate the most. “Am I a good leader? What things do I have to pay attention to?”

A recent survey of 350 followers across Europe shows what followers really care about.

In this article you’ll learn about the top 3 things followers look for in a great leader. And the 3 things you should absolutely avoid.

The top 3 things that makes a great leader

Qualities followers look for in a good leader

Number 1: Comfort & Safety

71% of all survey respondents put “A leader makes me feel comfortable & safe” somewhere in their top three. Which makes it the #1 thing followers look for in a good leader.

You can be an incredible leader with amazing footwork, styling and technique but if don’t have an awareness for safety you will never stick out as a great leader.

There are three aspects to safety & comfort:

  • Awareness for the environment: Also known as “Floor craft” is the ability to understand the environment around you and adjust to it. If you go for a dip then make sure there is space. If all of a sudden there is not enough space anymore adjust your move and go for a smaller dip
  • Awareness of the followers level: You first want to check if your follower can do the moves you’re leading. Approach it in a progressive way. Don’t start with a massive headroll but rather lead a small one first. If they feel comfortable with it then you might try a bigger one.
  • Awareness of your own level: Know your limits. This is especially important in Bachata Sensual where a wrongly lead move can hurt the follower. You’re allowed to try to new things on the dance floor but the same rule applies again: Go small first.

Number 2: Connection

65% put “The leader makes an effort to really connect with me” in their top 3. Which makes it a close second.

What exactly makes a good connection is very subjective. Some say it’s having the same understanding of the music, for others it’s that you perfectly match each others energy. There’s even some that say it’s pure magic and it’s either just there or not.

The truth is that creating a great connection is a skill like anything else. At the core of a great connection is your understanding of the followers level.

Start off slowly and spend the first 20-30 seconds trying to understand the capacity of the follower: What moves can you lead? What moves can they follow? And at what level are they dancing? Build an understanding of how the dance will go. You can’t do a headroll with a beginner. They will stop, feel bad and confused. It will make them feel unprepared for anything that you will lead in the next three minutes.

Number 3: Clear leading

In third place is “Their leading is very clear”. Exactly 50% of all participants put that somewhere in their top 3.

Clear leading is a fine line between not leading too soft nor too harsh. Interestingly enough “Soft leading” ranked very low with only 12% of all participants mentioning it as an important skill to have: Leading too soft can leave the follower irritated and unclear about how to interpret your signals. Whereas on the other end of the spectrum is forcing a follower into a move.

Every follower is different and you need to adjust your energy accordingly. Dance with as many followers as you can in class. If you have a dance partner outside of class consider changing that dance partner every once in a while.

Just like with building a connection, take your time in the beginning of the dance to understand how much energy the follower needs.

3 things to avoid

What makes someone a bad leader

The survey also asked for the top three things to avoid.

In first place is “The leader doesn’t respect my boundaries”. This is a big topic in Bachata Sensual where a dance is often very intimate and close. It’s the decision of both dancers on how close you want to dance. You may build it up over time but it should never be forced

In second place is “Unhygienic appearance”. This one goes without saying and there are countless articles out there on how to prevent that.

In third place is “Using too much force to lead”. Going back to comfort and safety it’s your job to understand a follower. They can’t do everything you want them to. By using force you risk injuries and might even end dance careers. Listen to what their body is telling you. As a rule of thumb: If you feel hesitation then stop the move right away.

Curious about the full results and breakdown per level of experience? Click here to read the full article.

Thanks to Yann for this very interesting article, I’m sure it might help a lot of leaders to understand more what followers look for in a great leader. Also, if you’re interesting about learning about following, don’t forget to check out this article about 7 common mistakes followers make. It will help you, for sure, to improve your dancing !!

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