Last night I had a dream. I dreamed that someone gave me new car. But it wasn’t just any car. It was a brand new Lamborghini Diablo convertible. Sort of like the one Al Pacino drove in the movie “Scent of a Woman”–cherry red with plush leather seats, 520 horsepower V-10 engine, and power everything.
“Boy!” I thought, “This is going to be great! With this baby I’m going to experience driving nirvana.”
So I opened the door, hopped in and what a surprise! The seats weren’t leather. They weren’t even plastic. Instead they were just hard cold steel painted to look like leather.
“Man!” I thought, “This is not going to be so great–this is not going to be driving nirvana. In fact, this is a lot like dancing tango with a partner who has a really bad embrace!”
Regardless of my discomfort, I put the key in the ignition and started the engine. Expecting it to roar to life, I was really disappointed when after a little pause, the engine just coughed, sputtered, and ran really rough and uneven.
“Wow!” I thought, “This is not what I was expecting from such a sleek powerful sports car. This is not going to be driving nirvana. In fact, this is a lot like dancing tango with a partner who has bad timing.”
Nevertheless, I proceeded on and decided to take the car for spin. I put it in gear and took off. But, much to my amazement, it didn’t have power steering! In fact, it had practically no steering at all. I had to force the steering wheel one way and then the other, and when I did there was practically no relationship at all between the way I turned the wheel and the direction the car went. On top of that, the car drifted to one side and then the other. It was frightening, dangerous, and impossible to navigate.
“Yikes!” I screamed, “This is not fun. This is not driving nirvana. In fact it’s just like dancing tango at a crowded milonga with a partner who can’t follow.”
Well, I did my best and managed to finally pull off the road and stop the car without crashing. I got out, walked away and resolved to never drive any new sports cars again just because it was given to me for free—and especially not because of the allure of her….err, I mean, its shiny new paint job and sleek lines.
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P. S. The same metaphor applies to you leaders. No matter how rich you are, or how many fancy steps you know, unless you’ve mastered the fundamentals of a comfortable embrace, clear lead, and exquisite timing, your follower is not going to enjoy the ride.