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A prescription for leadership
No one wants to be thought of as a weirdo. And yet, if by having the guts to embrace a bit of weirdness and envelop others in that embrace we could become better leaders, why wouldn’t we want to give it a shot?
What got me thinking about all this is a 3-minute Ted Talk my sister forwarded me a couple of weeks ago. It goes by the title “Weird Dancing Guy.” And it offers a timeless if wildly unorthodox lesson about how to get others to overcome their initial reluctance and throw themselves into something new. Which is what transformative leaders always do.
What makes this exceptionally short video refreshing is that the gutsy leader portrayed is not some lantern-jawed decision-maker who gives himself points for courage because he’s willing to cut a division or jettison a product line. Instead, it’s someone who cares more about getting others involved than in looking good or doing things the right way. Someone willing to be “that lone nut doing something fantastic,” in the words Derek Sivers, the talk’s creator.
And to keep doing it until someone else joins in.
Sivers notes that the first person who joins the action is as much of a leader as the lone nut who initiates it. That’s because the first follower shows everyone else that it’s okay to do the unexpected, while also showing them how it’s done. In fact, the subsequent followers actually follow the first follower, not the weirdo. It’s the first follower who gives those on the sidelines permission, as well as courage.
The strange genius of this 3-minute video is that it shows solidarity in action, rather than simply talking about why it’s important. It also illustrates how a movement is born: it starts with one person having the nerve to do something that no one else is willing to do. And persisting until one person decides to step up.
This is the stealth process by which we assume leadership. And it’s how we change our organizations, and the world.
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