This is a situation that has me quite in knots!
I am an intermediate/advanced dancer, and go to a lot of classes, where obviously you get all sorts of leads of all different skill and experience levels.
Unfortunately classes I think are harder for leads because they have to memorize the steps, where we ladies just follow along.
If the lead gets all flustered or is not doing the steps correctly is it ok to help him, or is that going to humiliate him?
I have tried to help leads in the past, most are ok about it, but it is obvious some resent it or are embarrassed.
This is a trick situation.
I am a follower so I will answer from a follower's view.
Often the reason you help a leader in a tango lesson is not necessarily to help them - but actually it is entirely selfish. A group lesson is inherently much easier for a follower, because the leader must learn entirely new steps (and learn them quickly!) whilst the follower need only follow these steps (deh!). Thus it often happens (in my experience anyway) that the follower has no idea what to do. In this situation, I have to choose between basically doing nothing whilst the lead flounders around trying to remember steps he has already forgotten - or helping the lead remember, thereby getting some use out of the lessons which I have paid for.
Of course assisting the lead is a great byproduct.
However I am always very careful to try to get an idea if the lead will appreciate my helping hand. If I think he will not, I shut up. Selfish again: if I humiliate him, I have zero chance of getting asked to dance by him in the next milonga. Plus why humiliate someone?
NEVER help the leader, unless you are an experienced leader yourself, and he asks. I have seen, and heard, women give terrible advise to the leader. I assume there is a teacher there who will be happy to teach. Your best help to the leader is to follow exactly what he led. That is the feedback he needs in order to get better. Maybe he is changing the move a little - improvising a different piece. If you follow the move as taught, rather than as led, you as a follower are not learning anything.
Dear Mariposa - there ist nothing more to say. For me as a leader - it is very helpfull when the follower stay in her own axis, following the lead as she feels it. That ist the feedback on an equal footing we all need.