How to Start A Movement – Lunch w/ TED

Lunch with TED — By on April 22, 2010 at 10:43 am

In the cannon of great Western literature, extended, profound treatises have been written on the topic of leadership; Cicero’s On the Good Life or Machiavelli’s Prince come to mind.  This talk by Derek Sivers is not one of them.  Yet in 3 short minutes Sivers is able to lay some important groundwork for understanding leadership and give insights valuable to understanding the earliest steps of beginning a movement.

Initially, Sivers’ remarks seem obvious: 1) Leadership begins with a brave soul unafraid to take action, 2) followers join and give credibility to the leader, 3) eventually the movement will hit a tipping point and grow until reaching critical mass.  However, if we are honest with ourselves, I think we’ll admit that our human nature clouds our view when we are in positions of leadership.

Consider a time when you were the leader of something.  Now think about the first time that a new, energized, passionate person with a vision joined your movement.  Didn’t this person seem like a threat?  If you’re the shirtless guy dancing, getting comfortable with the attention and beginning to reap the rewards of being a unique visionary then another who didn’t do the hard and shameless work of attracting the crowd stands beside you to catch your wave, don’t you want that person to go away?

Our competitive human nature makes it difficult for us to open up our ideas and movements to others, we protect them as children, constantly wary of outside threats.  At the very least, we are tempted to make the new member know his or her place as a subservient to you or I – the leaders.  However, learn from this video and you’ll learn the secret to step 2 of beginning a movement: embrace new persons as equals and understand their role as the individual to show everyone else how to “follow.”

Sounds easier said than done, right? Perhaps, but it’s not hard to embrace your first followers and make them equals when you remember Sivers’ most important point: “leadership is over-glorified.”  The first follower plays a crucial role and you, as the leader, need to help that first follower fulfill his or her role.  If you’ve got an idea burning in your belly or you’re in the early stages of beginning a movement, keep that idea or movement at the fore of your mind – it’s all about your idea or movement.  It’s not about you, not about you “being a leader,” not about your success, it’s about your idea, your movement.  Said more precisely, a good leader is a servant to his followers, servant leadership being modeled by the greatest leader of all time Jesus Christ.

(HT: Dave Martina – thanks for sending this video my way!   If you’ve got a favorite TED talk, contact me using the “Contact Us” link above, select my name Dustin Steeve, and let me know about it.)


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