The First Follower

At the 2010 TED convention Derek Sivers delivered a great presentation called the ‘First Follower’.  Derek lead an engaging discussion, highlighting his talk with captivating amateur clips of a music festival crowd. Using these amusing clips, Derek successfully illustrated how social movements really get started. Today’s Karen Gately blog takes a little look at the idea of the ‘first follower’, and we’ve embedded a clip of Derek Sivers‘ talk below. As you watch, observe the most critical step – the engagement of the first follower.

When I first saw this talk, it made me reflect on the importance of leaders understanding the things that influence and motivate followers to ‘join’ movements.  Although an obvious point, I believe the greatest influence of an ongoing following is trust; hard-earned belief and confidence which is built on a foundation of respect. As my Dad always said when I was a kid, “you don’t demand respect, you command it”.  Despite the literal meaning of command implying to ‘order or control’, the wisdom Dad was intending to share is that respect is earned, and therefore so too are followers and loyalty.

Over the years I have learned that to be successful, leaders must positively influence the decisions people make about participating, collaborating, cooperating and ultimately coming along on a journey.  At the end of the day, people must choose to follow – they can’t be forced to. Even when our freedoms and right to choose are taken away, we cannot be called ‘followers’ simply because we comply. As Derek Sivers demonstrates with his footage, gaining the momentum to engage people to create a movement is dependent heavily on visible leadership as well as the courage of the first follower.  Movements are dependent on that first person willing to step forward and give their support to the purpose or meaning of the group.  Without that first follower, no leader can create a committed team let alone achieve goals.

Enjoy the video … if nothing else I’m confident it will give you a bit of a giggle.


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