A Practical Theory On Leadership & Collaboration – ‘The Shirtless Dancing Guy’

I got this video off of Charles Lemos’ site and was referred to it by Ben Roberts’ Facebook conversation. Derek Sivers gave this presentation at the TED Conference this week and got a standing ovation. It’s pretty brilliant in its takeaway. The video below is a healthy perspective on the collective’s role in leadership, especially the ‘first follower’. Watch how this natural form of taking the lead seeds the beginning of collaboration.

Here’s the transcript, with bold notes made by Charles. Thanks to Charles and Derik. 

If you’ve learned a lot about leadership and making a movement, then let’s watch a movement happen, start to finish, in under 3 minutes, and dissect some lessons:

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore – it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.

The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.

A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers – not the leader.

Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!

As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you’ll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they’d be ridiculed for not joining.

And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made! Let’s recap what we learned:

If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.

Be public. Be easy to follow!

But the biggest lesson here – did you catch it?

Leadership is over-glorified.

Yes it started with the shirtless guy, and he’ll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:

It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.

There is no movement without the first follower.

We’re told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.

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 doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.

Be a follower, join a movement. That’s how change happens.

Vic on Creative Learning

Let’s set the stage for what will be discussed here:

What does this subject have to do with anything outside of a school environment? Well allow me to elaborate …

The world has changed. Noooo, the world is not ‘about’ to change, it HAS changed. And the way we learn no longer fits into the slot of go-to-school, get a degree, then go apply what we learned. No, learning has become a frequent set of feedback loops that are built directly into real experience. So, there is no longer time to go to school and get ‘educated’ (so to speak). Thus, this part of my sustainable innovation blog is dedicated to the new ways we humans are learning. It directly links to collaborative processes, to sustainability, and is critical to developing what I call ‘next generation innovation’.

This next generation forms of innovation carry a much bigger stick in terms of what kind of knowledge capital is embedded into it. Larger questions are asked about the outcome of NGI that is inherently guiding its evolution and manifestation. So join me in this journey by jumping in, being willing to make mistakes, and staying open to other people’s views so that we can find potentially better ways for us to learn together as a now global community.

Technology's Influence on Behavior Changes

I watched this interesting video on company and personal branding, which are often one in the same these days. Check it out because it tells an underlying tale of how technology is influencing our behavior. Additionally David Armano tells a story here of how positive interactions with his iPod has changed his ‘dropping’ behavior. This triggered an insight for me that is relevant to collaboration and design. Online collaboration tools are rapidly filling a new industry space, and it is my belief this phenomena will continue to grow and evolve to the point where human interaction will dramatically increase within the virtual space of the web. Now, did you feel a hit in your gut with what I just said? Some of you, I’m sure, felt excited. And many of you, I’ll bet, heard an inner voice of concern for how you think technology is separating our humanity by disconnecting us from our physical interactions. You know, after a lot of thought about this, I think this later hit needs serious review. Certainly it is going to change our behaviors. That is, the ways in which we interact and are comfortable with, are going to change. Personally, I have gone from a place of concern, to being keenly watchful of what’s happening, to going fully on board with these changes. To the point where I have committed myself to a study and emerging business offering of online collaboration environments. Because I see it as the future of how we can rapidly change (shall we say) our ‘meta’ behaviors on this planet for the betterment of a world that we want to live in.

I encourage you to open your mind and heart to the possibilities that might unfold for you and others by daring to step into the uncomfortable places being created for collaboration within the online virtual world. For me, thinking about what I can design and who I can design with rrrrreally exicites me because possibilities have opened up to a point where my long standing vision and bag full of ideas could actually be manifested. So cool! All with what I believe will include a deeper sense of compassion and reverence for our world and the people in it. Also note that, so far, it has been WAY easier for me to find others that think like me and want to create things that I am interested in ….  And I find that even more exciting!

Sooooo, behavior change? Yup. It’s happening, and that’s a good thing in my book. As long as we stay conscious watchers of the changes that are occurring and constantly question them deeply and collaboratively.

Let’s talk more about this soon.