Leaders: From Puppet Master to Partner

My “two rules of leading” philosophy:

1) Invite 
2) Don’t mess her up
  As a beginner dancers, my general understanding of leading was that the guy is in charge, and that it was my job to make the lady do things. That’s correct in a sense, as the gentleman is responsible for setting the timing and direction of movement. The lady in turn keeps the timing and direction the guy has initiated.
However, as my understanding grew, I began to realize that I’m not “making” her do anything! I invite her to dance. She accepts (or declines and that’s okay). I invite her into dance position. She accepts (into a position that is no closer than she is comfortable dancing and that’s okay). I invite her to turn. She accepts (or declines and that’s okay).
It’s liberating to me as a leader to be able to invite or initiate a dance pattern and have the lady choose to accept and dance her part, as opposed to holding the mindset of making her do something, which implies that I have to do my job AND her job. We’re not even getting into the discussion about whether she wanted to or was able to do what I had tried to “make” her do in the first place. 
Once I initiate that dance pattern, then I do my best to let her shine. At the minimum, I don’t give her any extra “help” by shoving her into the pattern or yanking on her arm. 
Think of it this way, you are walking or jogging along the street and someone comes up and pushes you from behind. What happens? You fall down! You weren’t expecting the extra energy from behind and it happened to be just enough to throw you off balance. Ouch! Think of that scenario when you are leading. 
Invite- then don’t mess her up. 
And remember: when she looks good, you look good.