The Courage of Followers

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Derek Sivers, the founder and former president of CD Baby, shows in this funny and revealing video that while a leader gets things started, it’s the courageous follower that transforms the “lone nut” into a leader.  It’s the follower’s choice to follow and encourage others to follow that makes the difference between an isolated incident and a trend.  New followers follow the follower as much as, if not more than, the leader.

So, what does this mean if you are the leader?  And what does it mean even if your leadership role doesn’t require that you are a trend-setting innovator?

  1. Stay true to your convictions.  It’s your strength and commitment that sets you apart and captures the attention of those around you.  It may take time for your ideas to catch on, but keep at it.
  2. Embrace and nurture your followers.  Show abundant appreciation for those with the guts to walk away from the safety of the tried and true to follow you.  And then . . .
  3. Collaborate.  Make it about the movement, not you.  Make your followers co-conspirators.  Give them space to shine.

If you really want to create something special—whether you are the leader, an early stage follower, or part of the in-crowd—be courageous.  Step up, show the way and know that your fearless example teaches and inspires.

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2 thoughts on “The Courage of Followers

    1. Thanks, Heather, for your comment. It’s fun to see that this video is getting so much discussion one year after it went viral. One crazy dancing guy can truly change the world! Here is another version that shows just how persistent his leadership effort was and how many attempts at following took place before the movement was created. This longer version shows not only the importance of #3, as Seth points out, but also how critical it is for leaders to stay true to their vision.

      Keep up your good work! I enjoy your writing and Tweets.

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