Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The real leader is the first follower...

An otherwise ordinary home made video posted to youtube of a "crazy guy" dancing around without his shirt on while a crowd of onlookers gawks, suddenly has a voice over about leadership and goes viral because it turns a punch line into something to think about. (The First Follower) Go ahead, check it out. Initially I felt bad watching, I get tired of overplayed "story lines" where the one with the guts to be different ends up criticized and cast aside as the odd man. And yet, I stuck with the video knowing in good faith that the source which recommended it and the intonation in the narration both indicated that it was going to "get good"....and it so did. I have never before thought about the importance of the first follower. Leadership is so much more than the charisma and decisions of the front man, the one paving the way and teaching the moves, it's about the first person who has the courage to join in with the leader, to take the risk not knowing whether others will follow to. Arguably, one could make a case that it is simply the human condition that longs to either be blended in with the crowd or leading the crowd - but in either case there is always a crowd. Whether one loves to lead or loves to follow, people only do so when then know there is a crowd because somehow that either validates their leadership or provides great security and comfort for the follower who is trying to hide from any amount of the spotlight. But, what about that first follower? He or she either goes down on the ship with the crazy leader, so to speak, or he/she successfully invites others to follow along, as well, and before long a crowd has gathered. It's fascinating, really. We're always so quick to give accolades to the one out front, and really we should be high-fiving the one directly behind him - he took a risk, invested in a cause, and, in all honesty, is the reason all the others followed. Leaders can only hope others will buy into his/her vision - followers determine if it will happen for them. It's excellent food for thought. I suspect I'll be considering this nugget for quite some time.

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