There's an fun video clip on leaders and followers that made the audience I was watching it with laugh a lot. It's called Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy by Derek Sivers.
The transcript begins: "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"
The summary of the 3 minutes of the dancing guy reads:
"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."
So then I wondered who the lone nuts are and what makes the difference between the lone nut who is a lone nut and doesn't want followers, and the lone nutters who people do follow and mayhem results – plenty of examples of that. Does it boil down to judiciously choosing the lone nut to follow?
Alternatively one can decide to be the lone nut and hope someone follows. And that's not so easy in organizational life.
In fact, not two hours after the video was shown the work groups presenting back their requirements to get their projects onto the starting blocks all had at the top of the list "Senior leadership support/buy in/engagement". Not a sign of anyone going to attempt anything without that – no lone nutters in this organization. Or any who are around are not nutty enough to risk losing their jobs by starting a movement (or project) without a leader to follow first.
This led me to ask myself which organizational leaders already in positions of power are going to identify themselves as the nutter willing to support a potentially risky project? Also many leaders already are championing/supporting/buying into/engaging with all sorts of projects, initiatives, and normal day to day work. Do they have the time, energy, and interest to be picking up an additional burden?
So the video left me wondering:
1. How do you choose the 'right' lone nutter to follow?
2. If you don't want to be the lone nutter driving your project how do you find a leader willing to be one for you?
3. What are the penalties and rewards for being a lone nutter in your organization? (Or for not being one – depending on the organization)