A lifelong dancer, I've always been fascinated by the parallels that exist between dance and life - and business. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the tango, the most intricate of the partner dances (as Obama discovered last month when he danced it in Argentina).

Here are three things I've learned about leadership from dancing tango semi-professionally:

1. Know where you're going.

In tango, all movements from a lead should emanate from his core (his abdominal muscles). In fact, when students first start out, teachers often have men lead with their arms behind their back, to emphasize how much leading is about intention and clarity of purpose - not control.

It's not only easier to follow a leader who knows where he's going, it's impossible to follow one who doesn't. Due to the extremely close proximity the dance requires, a follower's "fate" is tied to his. When he's vague or hesitates, it trips her up - literally. When he moves forward with purpose, she follows smoothly.

Good leaders hold a strong vision and move purposefully in that direction. They keep their heads up and their eyes focused.

It's not just easy to follow this kind of lead - it's inspirational.

2. Give clear directions.

In tango, the follower balances on her toes the entire time. She's in a perpetually vulnerable state, as it's easy to tip her off balance (the technical term is "pull her off her axis").

Good leaders understand this, and take responsibility if a follower stumbles. "Sorry! I pulled you off your axis there," they say, and correct themselves.

Bad leaders blame the follower.

I once quit a job because I felt like a constant failure. I could never get precise directions from my manager, so I could never "succeed" for him. Meanwhile, I could feel him blaming me for not getting enough done. I felt helpless.

It reminded me of being on the dance floor with an unclear leader who plainly thought it was my fault we weren't dancing well. I wanted to say, "But you're the one leading. If you don't tell me what you want, I can't give it to you."

A good team leader's first move isn't to shame or blame someone if they make a mistake or don't do something exactly the way they wanted. Their first inclination is to say, "Did I give clear enough directions?" or, "How can I communicate more precisely so this person understands?"

Bad leaders point the finger. Good leaders point the way.

3. Protect your people.

There's nothing more bewitching than gazing at glittering high heels gliding around a tango hall. But a floor of stilettos is also dangerous for those on it; I'm not the only follower to have gotten scratched or stepped on hard enough to draw blood.

In tango, a follower relies on her lead to guide her and keep her safe (particularly since she's doing everything backwards). Good leaders have a sense of the floor as a whole, tracking not only what's happening now, but what's likely to happen a few moves from now, and how that'll affect him and his follower. He's focused on much more than himself, yet manages to make it look effortless.

One of the best CEOs for whom I ever worked once went against his lawyers' advice when it came to vesting. He fought for us (the employees), ensuring that if the company were ever bought, our shares would accelerate; he wanted to shield us from missing out or getting taken advantage of. 

Everything he did said, "You are my people, and I will protect you." 

Tango, like entrepreneurship, is complex. It requires good balance, exquisite timing, and above all, strong leadership, to work. 

Bad leaders try to control others, and blame them when things don't work. Good ones lead from their core, support and protect their people, and celebrate when they shine - on or off the dance floor.