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.

The Need For Communicating About Our Communication

Join Abhijit and I in this dialog about the evolution of “communication” …

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Dec 24, 2008 AM

Vic,

I’ve been in the business of mass communication and making efforts to ease the man-to-man communication process.

Abhijit Banerjee, 54
Calcutta
India

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Hello Abhijit,
I am curious to learn more about your statement: ” efforts to ease the man-to-man communication “.
Kindly,
Vic D
http://discoveryfuel.com

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Abhijit Banerjee
Reply Message

Hi Vic

I was expecting this question from the time I joined Copperstrings. And when I almost gave up, you asked. It’s a rather long story, but to cut it short, I am supposedly a mass communication specialist. Made my living in this profession for 30 long years. Created mass communications which helped sell several products, benefitted a number of companies. And all the while I kept wondering why when we are in direct communication with people – even one-to-one communication, there remains in most cases so much which is half understood, misunderstood or not understood at all. My wish is to ease this as far as possible. Not been very successful so far. Love to be your friend.

Best wishes.
Abhijit

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Hello Abhijit,

Yes, yes; I agree with the principle inquiry you are making.

As a facilitator of group collaborative design processes (http://DiscoveryFuel.com), I am very interested in what makes communication happen between both individuals and the among the global collective (the masses). It has triggered some thoughts for me, which I’ve added below as a list of points.  We may be able to build on a couple of them and see where the possibility of helping to generate more evolved forms of communication …

1- I believe that the primary glue that holds (or doesn’t hold) a group of any kind and size together is ‘communication’. It seems in today’s world that building group infrastructure needs to be based on how communication emerges between individuals within companies. Rather than the other way around as we do today, where people step into preconceived info-structures.  This backwards approach works for the masses but fails miserably for individual to individual interactions.

2- With such poor interaction between us humans as individuals, it amazes me that functional products get out the door of any company. It does seem that ‘mass’ communication is ruled by principles that are different than ‘individual’ communications. This raises a thought that ‘fractal’ theory may be relevant to clarifying and creating an evolved forms of communication.

3- Our technologies may get out the door, which is a direct result of communication. Yet there seems to be underlying design principles that are not “communicated”, which is causing huge decline in the ecology of our earth system. This loss of ‘ecology’ (i.e. the interaction between living systems) could be thought of as a breakdown in communication at the larger earth scale. This is beyond just human communication. The concept of ‘sustainability’ is helping to bring in new forms of awareness into our language and as a result, the way we create and live on this planet is changing.

4- The internet has opened a portal for entirely new forms of humane communication to emerge. What this looks like is not for any one of us to decide since they are mostly ’emergent’ through a collective process (i.e. emergent means showing up in organized ways that are not pre-planned). At the same time however, many of us are riding the desire for humans to connect in unique way and across world cultures (as we are now) to watch for patterns that may help to identify who we are becoming or want to become. The ideas of self responsibility, interdependence and collaboration have never been so relevant.

5- You may want to join my new online community called http://ChangingNormal.com. It is an experiment in advancing human interaction and collaborative design, and is founded on the question: “What is communication and how does it become a tool that we use to deepen our physical and spiritual lives as both individuals and the collective become aware of communication as a guiding tool or map to the creation of chosen states of being. Rather than today’s approach to communication which metaphorically acts like a vehicle that we are unknowingly riding in. This level of conscious communication falls under what I call ‘the squared principle’ meaning that it is about the “communication about communication”. This is what you and I are doing in this dialog.

6- Our connection has triggered me to start a blog conversation about this subject regarding ‘mass communication’ vs ‘person-to-person communication’. I was hoping that you might join me in this dialog there so that other’s may be able to jump into the conversation as well. Plus it will be easier for us to review, synthesize, and track the lineage of conversations that emerge. More later …

What are your comments or insights?

Best to you,
Vic Desotelle
DiscoveryFuel.com

Insights on Team Identity and Self Expression

This is a real experience relating to my own personal authenticty awarenesss and development. I encourage you to do the same. Below are insights from John Voris of Authentic Systems after a healthy discussion on personal development and team building. Go ahead and listen in…

“Vic,  It was a pleasure talking with you. We have a great deal in common.

In the beginning, you seemed concerned with being boxed in and I hope that feeling lessened by the end of our conversation.  While we don’t like being labeled, we actually spend our entire life ensuring that we are. Individuality is not a state of doing in the sense of achievement but rather a way of life. It is how we pursue our desires. Liberty requires the freedom to choose the conditions in which to aspire toward our goals. Choosing our own direction makes our identity our own freely chosen.  Autonomy ensures self-development and cultivation of our faculties in the hopes of finding the best direction for full expression.

This self-direction finds structure by us always heading toward fulfilling our satisfaction of wants and desires and these passions are again structured in abeyance to the living design of our choices, heading toward our individual interpretation of what is fulfillment. The model of self is always imploding and feeding off itself.  Our identity finds definition in moral orientation that exists beneath the culturally imposed topography of self (Synthetic). We frame our inner self (Authentic) within a universally valid commitment and it is this commitment that generates our external manifestation.

If we were to lose this sense of orientation we would not know who we are. It is this linguistically transcending orientation that defines where you answer from when asked “Who are you?”. It is an abstract feeling that attaches to physicality of language. Our orientation is in this moral space–the  ontological basis to self. That is, to say that your Authentic Motivator is “Spiritual Connection” is a symbolic simulation at best.

To cultivate the “self” is to cultivate a “way of being” that has form. Even to say that all is relative and absolutes do not exist is still a “way of being.” Freedom is the willingness to be self-shackled.

I thought you might enjoy some additional thoughts on the subject.”

If you’d like to know what truely motivates you at your core, as well as what’s stoping you from achieving your goals, take John’s Authentic Identity Assessment and learn the truth about…you.