Some advice for newer leaders: remember, you’re leading your partner, not just patterns! Many people seem to make the mistake of thinking that a good leader is someone who can make any partner, of any level, do any pattern…nothing could be further from the truth. A good leader is someone who can dance with any partner. As such, being a good leader means being sensitive your partner’s abilities and style, and adjusting accordingly—not just trying to force every partner into an identical mold. Ask women who they’d rather dance with: (1) a guy with a repertoire of only five “moves” but who leads them well and on time, or (2) a guy who knows 50+ patterns but isn’t always smooth or on time with them. The answer is almost always guy #1… So, what does it mean to lead your partner rather then a pattern? For one thing, just because you know a pattern doesn’t mean that you should lead it! Does the pattern suit your partner’s ability and style? What about the floor conditions? The music? What about variations in height and arm length? All of these elements are dynamic variables that vary from partner to partner and dictate against a one-size-fits-all approach to leading. Another such consideration pertains to the sensitivity and responsiveness. Say you launch your partner into a set of multiple spins…just because you originally had a certain number in mind, say six, there is nothing inviolate about that number. If your partner is having a balance problem, then it’s your responsibility as a leader to get her out of the spins smoothly; not to force them. Again, what are you leading, a pattern or your partner? Similarly, how much pressure do you actually use to execute your various leads? Here too a one-size-fits-all approach is an all too common mistake. The “ideal” lead will provide as little pressure as is necessary. The responsiveness and sensitivity of your follower will, inevitably, vary from partner to partner—so why shouldn’t the lead provided to each vary in kind? One of the best ways to work on this element is to seek feedback from your best resource, your partners!