More Derek Sivers!
In this week’s TED talk the CD Baby founder uses a popular youtube video to illustrate an intriguing point: we tend to give leadership way too much credit.
Leaders are essential for progress and innovation, of course, but the “cult of leadership” in business can diminish the instrumental role followers play in the development of a movement.
Sivers is particularly interested in what he calls “the first follower” – the person who has the courage to join forces with a lone innovator and by doing so opens the floodgates for more reticent followers. As Sivers puts it, “The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.”
Sivers advises that whatever role(s) you currently find yourself in – leader, first follower or fan – take full ownership of that role and give it the best you’ve got. Here’s how:
If you are the first person to spark a new idea or direction – a leader – remember the importance of nurturing your followers once they come on board. As Sivers puts it, “Valuing those who are coming in later than you to a movement is just as valuable a contribution as being the head of the pack.” That means taking the time to engage with your community online, showing clients how much you value them by rewarding staff members who show that they are effective and loyal.
What if your are not a leader, but you stumble across a “lone nut” doing something new and great? Have the courage to stand up and join him or her before they’ve received any other social validation; take pride in your invaluable contribution as first follower.
Finally, if you are currently more of a fan than a leader or a first follower, don’t downplay your role. There would be no movements without fans, enthusiasts, participants and evangelists; every single contribution can count if it’s made with enough commitment. As Martin Luther King Jr. said so eloquently, “Not everyone can be famous, but everyone can be great.”