I get asked all of the time: "How do I develop a strong lead?". First of all you need to understand what a "strong lead" means. I believe that most men believe a "strong lead" is a physically strong connection. Instead of thinking of it as a "strong lead", it would be better if it was thought of as an "obvious lead". An "obvious lead" works well in social dancing where the lady may have little or no dance training, but it is the most effective when the lady has some ballroom training and understands the correct response to the lead.
A "strong lead" does not mean forcing the partner through a pattern. The ladies response to the lead should be very natural and controlled. The leader has to put himself into some seemingly unnatural positions for the lady to be able to respond naturally. After a while the man's unnatural movements even seem natural. This all makes sense when you realize that the partnership is a single "four legged animal". This particular "four legged animal" is quite complicated because it has two heads, feet point toward each other, one half is a different size than the other, etc. Partnership movements are based on the physics and geometry of this complicated "four legged animal". There can be only one leader in this "four legged animal". Somewhere back in time the man was selected as the leader. I like to think of leading and following as "action and reaction" The man's goal is to NEVER put the lady in a position where she has to make a decision. If you do, then she is leading.
Most people relate "lead" to the frame connection, when in fact, it is much more than that. Body shape, weight changes, direction of movement, planning ahead, counter balance, timing, physical connection, pattern sequence, partnership (dancing the ladies body), repetition (muscle memory), all contribute to an "obvious lead". With an "obvious lead", the lady knows what to do almost as soon as the man. If the leader is unsure or indecisive the lady feels that too. The lady dances one step at a time (she dances the step she can feel), the man dances patterns (elements at the higher levels of dance) because he has to plan ahead.
"Knowledge is power". Always obey RULE NUMBER 1 in every thing you do in life as well as in ballroom dancing. "KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING !!" Everything we do in ballroom dancing has a reason. The more a man knows why to do something the more likely he will do it. You can learn patterns from videotapes but you can't learn how to dance them. You must "know" how a particular movement is made (ex: which leg causes the movement, is it pushed or pulled or both etc.). Most of the time you can't tell from a videotape. You also can't tell how it feels and this is the most important part. I personally believe that you can't develop a great lead without private lessons. The "obvious lead" is all about feelings that come from so many different areas. I don't' know how anyone can learn the feeling without having the hands-on experience. Feeling is why we ballroom dance. The "obvious lead" is the basis for "the unbelievable feeling that is ballroom dancing".