I came across this video years ago and it totally resonated with me. If you haven’t seen this 2 minute 57 second video from Derek Sivers do so now (I provided the video below). I think it’s an excellent analysis of Leadership and there are some key takeaways that I definitely implement in my life.
Sometimes It’s Important to be a Follower
Just out of curiosity I did a quick search on amazon to see how many books on leadership I could find. Just under the category of “Business and Money” there were 99,858 results. However, you put in a search for “Follower” under the main category of “Business and Money” and you only get about 500 results. I get it… being a Leader is “Sexy”, it’s what society wants you to become, and it’s something revered. People just plain idolize leaders and I guess for good reasons.
Great leaders lead great movements, have great achievements, and create lasting legacies. BUT, great leaders can’t do these things unless they have followers, specifically a “first follower” as Derek explained in his video. Don’t take the role of “first follower” lightly, as Derek stated, others will emulate the “first follower” and not the leader.
Choose the Leader You Want to Follow
I believe everyone, whether they themselves believe or not, or even realize it or not, has the ability to choose who to follow. Can you answer yes to the questions “Does your leader embrace you as an equal? Does your leader care more about his/her movement more than themselves?”. It’s kind of like that great quote in Star Wars from Obi-Wan Kenobi when he says “Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?” By being the first follower you are taking on a risk – some would say more so than the leader. So choose a movement that you agree to and choose a Leader that cares more about the movement or mission.
Don’t Get Me Wrong, Leadership is Necessary
I’m not saying leadership qualities, and being a leader is inherently bad, but rather I’d like you to think about how to serve your leader better (instead of focusing on career advancement or self gain). Even if you are a freelancer or you happen to be the “boss” you can be a great follower. This may not make sense, but I believe there’s always someone/ something to follow. So if you are indeed a freelancer or already a CEO of a company and are leading from the top… your job is to be the follower of your clients, customers, and/or your movement. If you, yourself, don’t believe in yourself or your own movement… who else will?
So to do a quick recap… Leadership is necessary, but having several leaders for one movement will lead to chaos. Being the first follower is just as important as being “the leader”. You have the choice of which leader to follow and your choice matters.