The Lone Nut or First Follower
Leadership. Often times leaders are acknowledged with being the first one to take the step. They are considered to be the ones that motivate the crowd to believe or move in the direction that they want. I watched a Ted talk the other day, "How to start a movement" by Derek Sivers. This light-hearted, three minute Ted talk, meant to be a very short and thought provoking video, really got my mind turning. If you have not seen it, I highly suggest before continuing.
Derek Sivers is the founder of CD Baby, which he sold for 22 million in 2008. His prospective on "How to start a movement" really through me for a loop. My entire life I had always heard that being a leader is being able to take that first step of faith and then conceiving others to join you. Well he would like to argue that it is the second person that is truly the leader. I would concur with him. As Derek says in the video, the first guy was lone nut and the first follower is the one who had the guts to stand out with the first guy. The first guy acknowledged the first follower as equal. Then the first follower led the other followers. So who was the leader that started the movement? Was it the lone nut or the first follower?
My personal leadership style is much like the first follower. Often times in new or awkward social situation, I will hang back to listen and judge the others in the situation. I am able to learn those that will be strong, real leaders and those the are weak, fake leaders. I can differentiate between those who will build themselves up and those who will build a team for one purpose. I like to take this time so that I can figure out who is better to follow or who is better to have on a team. I recently completed a low ropes course with a group of kids I had never met but will live with during the next year. During the first couple hours, I merely listened and soaked in the things happening around me. It was odd to have so many leaders in one place. And often times there were so many great ideas but not a consensus on one idea to accomplish a task. This caused many issues and frustrated the whole group. Through listening I discovered a few individuals that would usually mediate between the group and help have one consensus Idea before continuing with a game plan. By the last couple hours I had gathered enough information to correctly identify those that would be good at a certain task. I was able to team up with those who were mediating the group and use their authoritative presence to help establish a game plan that worked to the advantage of everyone, which helped us quickly finish the final exercises.
Not boasting about my leadership style, I would say that Derek Sivers has a great understanding of who the real leader is. It often times is not the first "lone nut" but the first follower, the one who establishes a movement. So I encourage you to listen to a group allow the "lone nuts" to step out first and that way you can establish your leadership skills so that the whole team benefits. Be gutsy. Don't worry about being the first one with the idea, be the first one to follow so that others can follow you. Be a leader.