I learned that the person who first followed the leader was actually showing leadership, and could be more influential than the leader. This was one of those light -bulb moments for me.
I had been in situations where I had addressed a group, presented a new idea – and when the first reaction was a negative one – there was a shift from interest to caution and then to rejection. If only the first comment had been positive – there may have been a different outcome.
Being aware that the First Follower show others how to follow the leaders is invaluable information. I learned not to go into a meeting cold. I tested my ideas before the meeting with at least some members. I then knew if there whom those who would be willing to express support. I could the deliver the concept with more confidence to a bigger group for their approval.
I noted the Derek Sivers refers to the respect afforded to the First Follower, and that it was the First Follower who got others to join in.
I have also been the First Follower, especially with a new President who might be tentative about presenting a project or idea to a club or region. If the idea can be given the chance to be fully heard, then the President feels empowered to lead the discussion.
I presented a workshop on leadership at a national meeting. The room was full of past club presidents. We talked about the barriers to encouraging others to taking up a leadership role. I then asked what they saw as their function – and suggested maybe they could be the First Follower in support of a new leader.