I've been learning to dance over the past few months. Oh sure, I can do the twist (I'm dating myself), a good wedding line dance or just a free-for-all. But I'm talking about Ballroom dancing like the Fox Trot, Cha Cha, Nightclub Two-Step and Swing dances like the East Coast Swing and the West Coast Swing.
This dancing is a new world for me and I'm all ears and feet. I am digging in to learn, listen and practice as much as I can. The instructors call out steps to "Leaders" or "Followers". Leaders' steps and moves signal the Followers as to what is coming next. This signal or "lead" is usually sent as a light touch of the fingers or a press on the shoulder. As a new Follower, I rely on strong Leaders who know more than I do and have the kindness and patience for me when I mess up; a lot!
But then I noticed that there were Leaders dancing with Leaders. What is this?!
Ahhhh...the really good Leaders will dance as a Follower with another good Leader so they can learn how to lead better. (I know...right?!)
A Leader explained; "I now understand why my Follower didn't make the move I needed them to make. I didn't give them the correct "lead"!
Hey Leaders! You cannot lead with heart, compassion and credibility unless you have been where you are asking others to go. Even though you may be leading people to an unknown place or season, your past experience in trusting someone else to lead you to the unknown can be the perspective you need to lead well now. Did you experience those questioning thoughts or an idea that was not allowed to be given a voice to be heard? Did you hear those side conversations with others on the same journey as you and heard their fears, concerns or frustrations?
At church, we had a remote parking area that needed volunteers to help guests with finding where to wait for the Shuttle and helping with entering and exiting the Shuttle. Sending volunteers to serve there was a challenge and one team, in particular struggled more than the other teams. I listened to the leaders as they explained how they couldn't understand why they kept getting push back from their team.
I asked: "Have you served at the remote post yourself?"
They looked at one another. They looked at me. And then shared it never occurred to them that they should do that!
"How can you understand the needs, concerns, barriers that your team is facing if you haven't stood where you are asking them to stand?"
I saw the lightbulb moment. This was an opportunity to not only learn and understand the needs of this area such as:
Which volunteer would this post be the best fit?
What supplies would they need?
What happens in bad weather or how long should they stay at the post?
But they also would be filling their Trust Bucket as their team saw them as Servant Leaders with the best interest of the team and the mission first!
Learning as a follower can be the best education for strong leadership.