In principle, when the sailboat is nicely trimmed; that is, the sails are set perfectly for the wind and direction of travel, the skipper can have a light hand on the tiller. The tiller is what steers the boat, connected to the rudder. Ideal sailing is no pressure on the rudder and no need to hold the tiller tight.
Often groups sail almost by themselves, with perhaps a facilitator, leader, or supervisor on watch. When there is little tension, one can lead passively by making sparse but meaningful comments, by writing summary notes on a screen or flipchart for all to see, or by simply being present and providing security.
When wind and waves are turbulent and quickly changing, when there is tension, the group leader needs to be more active and hold the tiller tight.
Practical Tip: As a group leader or facilitator, steer no more than necessary. Trim the group according to wind (group energy) and direction of travel (desired outcomes) and keep a light hand on the tiller; but never so light that it will get away from you if there’s a gust.
– Craig Freshley