The First Follower

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 first came across this Ted Talk at a Soroptimist International Board Meeting… and it really opened my eyes.

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.

Author: Yvonne Simpson

This blog shares my leadership journey and my passion for educating to lead.

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