Delving deeper .. Lessons in Leadership from Dancing Guy

One of our favourite concepts around change is Derek Sivers approach to ‘creating a movement’

His YouTube video has over 5.4 million views (pretty sure most of them we’ve generated through sharing this easy to understand video storyboard!)

In case you’re not one of the 5.4 millions who’ve seen it, here’s the link 

The leadership lessons from the video 

  • Keep your leadership message simple – use language that can be heard and understood, language that connects with people
  • Be easy to follow – take note of the potential barriers to follower-ship and remove these (or soften them)
  • Embrace the follower – with celebration of personal investment (recognise what it may have taken to join you)
  • Its about them – whilst accountability for success or failure may sit with the leader equality/equity must exist within the team for the movement to continue with good faith
  • Be public – its not good enough to do a good job, its important for it to be seen. The’dance’ needs to be observable for future followers

This week I decided to challenge myself to review the video with a fresh new lens.. to see if I could delve deeper into the different perspectives and nuances behind the narrative


A new lens on the Leaders Perspective

Early in the clip you will hear words to the effect of ‘the leader needs guts to stand alone’, in this videoed example that’s a fair assumption. Maybe its guts or maybe its simpler … maybe the  ‘dancing guy’ truly loves the dance.. and embrace the opportunity to dance at every opportunity.  They love the fact that others choose to join because they are simply sharing something they love… and are basking in the positivity of the movement!

What if it didn’t always need bravery, but sometimes just took natural passion and enthusiasm?

“One can create a change, but many people can generate a movement” – IOC Women and Sport World Trophy winner Mrs. Birgitta Kervinen  (This quote has used as part of a media release for the ‘New Leaders’ Programme ‘Lead the change, Be the change’ funded by the IOC.Find out more:


The clarity of this message aligns with Derek Sivers assertion that we should ’embrace the first followers as equals’..  whilst one person can be the starting point it is those whom join that carry the movement forward.

Regardless of the reason why you find yourself in a leadership space, you are the flint and the followers are the spark that make the fire.


A new lens on the Followers Perspective

Yes it may take guts to be the ‘First Follower – you may well standout, risk ridicule or, this may just feel the ‘right thing to do’. In Derek’s clip,we don’t know why people followed  and why they may have encouraged others to join them. What if it was a call for help?!  (‘please come save me from being alone here!’ Or was it a wish to share this moment? (‘this is awesome!!’)


The First Followers certainly transform the lone nut into a leader, but why did they choose to follow and what was the reasons for the others joining?  Got me thinking, ‘what type of followers may there be?- here are some thoughts on a few:

  1. The Brave – I believe the story and I’m going in both feet. The follower who sees a compelling story and a vision that sits well with them
  2. The Checker – the one who taps their mates up so see ‘who’s coming with me’ and perhaps only goes if the ‘ins’ are more than the ‘outs’
  3. The Balanced – this individual checks both option diligently, understands the risk and if its one worth taking only then will go
  4. The Blind – here we have a follower coming forward without personal reason, blindly following the path of those ahead
  5. The Fraud – those that join as its safer than not joining. Being left on the outside could be just a little to much exposure or I may be ridiculed for not joining


Keeping the momentum going beyond the 1st song

I have never seen what happens after the first song is finished. Do the followers continue with the leader, seeing the next song as the next project?  or are they in the decision zone again (to follow or not to follow?) drifting off towards the proverbial beer tent of life and the promise of a perceived something better somewhere else?


The challenge for leaders is to keep the momentum going beyond the 1st song. Find out the reason for the First Followers choosing to come towards you, understand and nurture the seeds of interest and help the hesitant understand the bits they are not sure of.

Nurture your followers as equals, make it about the movement not you. And for bonus points help them show others how to follow.



by Kurt Lindley

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