Thinking analogously unveils relationships between people and the roles they play. When I was a secondary school educator I proposed this thinking exercise to fellow teachers. What if you “tried on” different metaphors in describing your relationship with students by filling in these blanks: “I am to my students as a _____ is to a ____?”
Answers that were given included: …a commander is to troops… coach is to the team… sage is to his followers… the guide is to the explorers… a captain is to the crew… a service provider is to the customer.
Each analogy could be explored for possibilities and limitations. How teachers view themselves in relationship to students affects action and outcomes in the classroom.
The same is true for being a leader. When a leader assumes that his role will always involve hosting of some kind, respect and kindness are built into the equation.
A leader leads most effectively by example. Attitude, work ethic, knowledge, and personal appearance are on display for those paying attention.
A leader sets guidelines and expectations and follows them in order to inspire others. This happens without making demands, micro-managing, or intimidation. Good leaders walk a path that encourages others to follow because they are trusted to do so.
By the same token, a host encourages guests to follow his example by setting guidelines and expectations.
Some of the leadership actions a host will carry out are:
In other words, a good host functions as a leader in initiating, inviting, making room for, setting an example for, assisting, limiting when needed, participating, bringing closure. And, in reverse, “A good leader is to those who follow, as a host is to guests.”
When I teach hosting responsibilities in my etiquette classes, the discussion always includes examples of leadership roles students will have in their lives and careers. Leadership is a matter of context and is intimately connected to the interpersonal skills that develop when a person strives to be etiquette-ful.
Anyone who spends time in the company of other people will, at times, be called upon to lead or to host. Fortunately, these skills seamlessly transfer to any area of life – whether in business, academics, student organizations, service and non-profit work, or homemaking and care giving vocations.