s a dancer and performer, you find yourself frequently in leadership roles. Whether it be at your studio, school, or community, there are many skills as dancers that put you in a position to lead — skills such as discipline, confidence, ability to work within a group, problem-solving and perseverance.
The big question is how do you know if you are a trusted leader. Some of you may be a leader by position or election, like student council president, dance team captain, or senior company member in your studio.
Others may find yourself a leader due to a lack of other people in your group stepping up to the plate to be a leader. Whether you are a leader by choice or appointment, it is important to develop trust with the people you lead. Dr. John Maxwell, a leadership expert, says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” As dancers, you influence others, especially as role models to the younger dancers in your studio. We may also have influence over our classmates or people in our communities. A trusted leader is valuable and so needed in today’s world!
Here are three ways to develop trust as a leader and become a successful role model for others:
1. Lead by example:
Operate by action, not words. Leaders are most successful when they lead by example, not just by the words they say. Leading by example with strong character values such as integrity, honesty, and reliability develops trust in you as a leader. Let’s take a quick look at these three essential character values. Integrity means thinking and doing what is right at all times, no matter what the consequences.
When you have integrity, you are willing to live by your standards and your beliefs even when no one is watching. Honesty means being honest in your actions. It is a relief not to hide who you are. It takes courage to be honest when your friends may get away with doing dishonest things such as cheating on tests, gossiping, or taking shortcuts from doing the hard work. Being an honest and authentic person always wins out even though it may not always be the most popular solution.
Reliability is one of the most valued traits in a trusted leader. Put simply, being reliable means that if you say you will do something, you will do it. People who can be trusted to follow through in the little things are the people we trust with the bigger things. As a leader, we want the people following us to know that we are reliable. As a leader, your followers will also be a reflection of you. Those who follow you will mirror both your negative and positive characteristics. If you are saying one thing and doing another, the people you lead will have a hard time trusting you.
Another way to develop trust as a leader is to listen to people. This sounds so simple, but it is so hard to do. Have you ever been in a situation where someone is telling you something, and your concentration is only on what your answers are going to be after they’re finished talking? How about when someone else is talking, you’re only thinking about how your story matches or beats what they’re talking about. Try a different approach, try to look the person in the eye, and really listen to what they’re saying. Do not let your mind wander into how you’re going to answer or one-up them. Try to understand their perspective or their point of view. A listening ear develops trust as a leader.
3. Operate by a servant leadership approach:
The final way to develop trust as a leader is to operate through a servant leadership model approach. The servant leadership model is where the leader is placed at the bottom, holding the people they lead up. Think of it as the reverse of the Abby Lee pyramid. Abby Lee leads from the top down, and everybody else is underneath. The Abby Lee way of leadership will quickly get you nowhere as a trusted leader. Servant leadership is serving others, caring for others, and putting others before yourself. When the people that follow you see that you are there to serve them, trust is built. Conclusion
As dancers, you already have an equipped “toolbox” to set you up to succeed as a strong leader with confidence, discipline, and your ability to empower others. By implementing these three tips, you are well on your way to being a trusted leader. Here is to the next generation of influential dancing leaders, you can take the lead!
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