“Leadership is over glorified… Have the courage to follow and show others how to follow.” – Derek Sivers, from the Ted Talk, “How to Start a Movement”
The blog by social media strategist Amy Kattan of Socialnomics and a TED video by entrepreneur Derek Sivers make similar points – that in order to be a credible (or at least popular) leader, you must first be an excellent follower. Being a thought leader isn’t about preaching or selling. It’s about movement and engaging – and most often that means listening and responding versus competing for attention in a crowded, loud auditorium filled with other wannabe thought leaders.
It takes a fearless follower who can take the lead in showing others how to follow, endure a few jeers from the audience and cast ego aside – at least long enough to create a truly outstanding experience or perspective. Sure, you may feel like the shirtless dancing guy at first, like a lone nut. But by taking risks, you’ll win the respect of those who are too timid to tip the tipping point on their own. You create the portal that makes it easier for others to join the “in crowd” of freaks who decide it’s okay to dance like nobody’s looking – even (or especially) when hundreds or thousands suddenly notice.
Remember: it’s about the movement, not you. Stay focused on your passion. Don’t just sit there waiting for the big crowd of followers to start dancing. The real party starts with those brave, first few. Once you’ve hailed them with your virtual high five and become their biggest fan, you’ll soon have their friends’ friends dancing to your door.