Don't Try to Lead People

I’ve come across two interesting bits on leadership in the past 24 hours that I want to share.  The first is pretty funny: Dancing Man.  The second, not so much: Standing Man.

What can we take from these striking and disparate examples of leadership?  The Dancing Man and the Standing Man were not trying to get people to dance, or to stand.  There was something strong within them that moved them to act in their unique ways.  They behaved authentically, guided by their values and the context in which they found themselves.  They had a vision and the courage to stand alone with it.

But would these examples have found their way to the world wide web if the individuals had stayed solo?  It seems doubtful. What is remarkable is not what they did, but how they moved people to join them.  It also takes a special kind of courage to join a potential leader or new movement before the scales are tipped and there is less risk in doing so.  And like Derek Sivers said in his narration of the Dancing Man clip, new followers emulate followers, not the leader.  Just like we can’t be all things to all people – we can’t all be leaders all the time.  There are times when embracing being a valuable follower is wisest and most effective.

So, don’t try to lead people: find your vision and the courage to fulfill it.  Or, don’t try to lead people: find the courage to follow, that an evocative vision might be fulfilled.