In my prior post I pointed out the traits of a good Dom are no different from the traits of a good leader. To me, the vanilla term for a Dom could simply be Leader! In thinking about when I first ventured into Domestic Discipline, I would probably have had fewer trepidations had I thought of it as a Leader/follower dynamic (L/f). This is due to the baggage I had, and suppose many people have, over the term “Dominant.”
I talked to Mike about my L/f observation and he instantly connected the dots with his experience. I’ve written about how Mike has said he feels he is a better leader at work since we instituted Domestic Discipline. This time in our discussion, Mike connected that not only did our D/s help him in the L/f work dynamic, but conversely, his skills and experience in the L/f work dynamic helped him in our D/s. I asked him to elaborate, and thus, this post!
It took me a bit to write this post as I tried to do in more of an interview style but it just didn’t work. So I decided to just list out the themes that Mike shared. He shared nine characteristics he strives to demonstrate in work that he also connects to how he approaches his Dom role at home.
- Consistency – I list this first because it is paramount. I’ve mentioned it before. Consistency is key! A follower needs their Leader to be a consistent, steady influence on her life. Consistency in their decision making, tone of voice, enforcement of rules and rituals, imposed discipline, and in their care and concern for their follower. (I took the liberty of writing these from the perspective of the male Leader and female follower, since that is what I identify with. Clearly, it could be any combination of genders depending on your dynamic)
- Empathy – a good Leader places himself in his follower’s shoes and seeks to understand before seeking to be understood. That’s not to say they identify with what the follower needs. The Leader seeks to understand the needs of the follower and then address them as the Leader see fit.
- Conscientiousness – Leaders are driven by a sense of duty that helps drive their actions and decisions. They understand that they have an impact on their follower and strive to impact them in positive ways as opposed to negative ways. No matter how assertive or tough-minded, the Leader is consistently concerned for the well-being of their follower.
- Wisdom – the Leader guides their follower down the best path. This often can only come with the experience and maturity of lessons learned from prior decisions and experiences, good and bad. Such “wisdom” is not in the eye of the Leader, but in the eye of the follower. If the Leader has proven themselves, the follower can trust her leader to be an insightful guide along her journey. This trust is critical as the journey is not even possible without it.
A Leader is bold, not a bully. Without #1 through #4, the rest of these would be characteristics of a bully instead of acts of the bold.
- Assertiveness – the Leader gets energy and motivation from a challenge and thus does not shy away when a challenge presents itself. The Leader prefers to be the one taking action as opposed to simply reacting to their follower. This is actually an act of vulnerability on the part of the Leader as being assertive means making oneself vulnerable to criticism or negative thoughts about their firm decisions.
- Self assurance – This is the result of the vulnerability that comes with being assertive. The Leader know that they are not perfect and make mistakes, but they don’t dwell on this or allow hesitation to creep in. They quickly address and overcome any mistakes and move on. This inner confidence strengthens the bonds between them and their follower and helps both the Leader and the follower to understand that mistakes will not deter their progress together.
- Tough-mindedness – Related to Assertiveness, it’s where the Leader sticks to their assertions. They know where they are going and have ideas as to how to get there. As a result it is not easy to divert them from their chosen path – but they will still adjust as appropriate.
- High standards – A Leader sets a high standard of excellence both for themselves and their follower. This inward desire to do one’s best can be intimidating, but also rewarding for the follower who steps up and meets those standards.
- Emotional Strength and Stability – The Leader maintains composure in the face of adversity, frustration, or disappointment. This is very critical in a D/s dynamic when the Leader is responsible for punishments. The Leader needs to maintain a command of their emotions while the follower needs to see that no matter how bad things get, her leader will be in control of himself. She feels safe as a result.
Mike said #7 was the hardest part for him to master when he took over the household leadership reigns. He said the challenge for him was to learn not to be easily swayed by my “emotional appeals” and to stay focused on my goals. He would be concerned at times that he would be seen as insensitive or disconnected. He didn’t want me to see him that way, yet he also wanted to help me reach the submissive mindset I was seeking.
Of course I had to ask him what “emotional appeals” meant. He said it meant something between persuasion and manipulation. He explained that basically it was the typical things I might do or say to elicit my preferred response from him. Humm…now that started a whole other conversation as I was very curious by what these “typical things” were. Perhaps I’ll share that part of the conversation some other time.
I never realized he thought I might interpret his actions as insensitive or disconnected. I told him that for me it was quite the opposite. I “get off” on his tough-mindedness. I enjoy it when typical methods of “emotional appeals” simply aren’t sufficient to overcome his determination to help me achieve my goals. I was saddened by realizing that there have been times Mike thought I was thinking ill of him for actions he took. It really underscored for me that yes, the Dominant is also making themselves vulnerable in this dynamic.
It also emphasized my “Golden Rule of DD” that I shared in my previous post. It is so important for the Dominant (Leader) to give praise, and the Submissive (follower) to give thanks. Especially early on in exploring this dynamic.
THANK YOU, I LOVE YOU FOR…
In reflecting on my last 2.5 years, I don’t think we did enough “Praising and Thanking.” Lately I have made it a point to frequently thank Mike for all he does, whether it is just as a person, a dad, a husband, or a Dom. And more than just a thank you, I remind him it is part of why I love him. My “phrase of thanks” is, “Mike, thank you, I love you for…” And then proceed to tell him the specific thing I am grateful for.
It’s amazing the power this phrase has. Of course, I must always be genuine in my use of this phrase. He might consider it an “emotional appeal” if I use it in attempt to sway him. Would I do that? Me? nEveR!