A friend sent me a video link by Derek Sivers in response to my last blog post -T.E.A.M. This short TED conference presentation (3:10 mins) is on how leaders start movements. I found it very interesting so I decided to share the video with my blog’s readers along with an overview of the key points I gained from it. Sivers communicates powerful leadership principles using video scenes from an outdoor music concert.
According to Sivers, “A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous”. His leadership actions must be simple and easily replicable because if they are not easy to follow, he will not attract many people to his cause or movement.
The first follower to any movement is crucial. This is because it takes guts to be a first follower, especially if it is an unusual cause. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. Hence, Sivers argues, being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. “If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.” The first follower is influential because he attracts other followers.
The primary importance of the first follower is that he shows others how / what to follow. This is why it is essential that he follows a leader and a cause worth following or he could easily lead others astray. Movements need momentum to succeed and this is generated as more people follow the lead of the first follower.
Sivers postulates that leadership is over-glorified because, though it is true that leaders get all the credit for the success of their movements, it is however the first follower that made it possible in the first place. He concludes his presentation by stating that “the best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow. When you find a lone nut (leader) doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.”
In other words, be a first follower!
I would love to hear your thoughts or comments on Sivers’ views on the importance of the first follower.