When we were kids playing outside, we would come up with all sorts of games. Some involved running, some involved flying through the air on swings, and some involved balls to hit, throw, or kick. We were on teams and figured out who would do what and where. There always seemed to be one person who directed or suggested or moved us along and we knew that was the leader … at least for that moment.
When you think about it, we were exposed to leadership early on with “Simon Says”…one person would make a move or do something and say “Simon Says touch your toes”…and we all did. Eventually we all had a chance to be Simon and maybe some of us took it to another level by suggesting we do something tough that was in our own area of expertise like standing on one foot while you twirled around and threw a ball in the air that you had to catch behind you. That could have eliminated many of the participants while at the same time we would all say WOW that’s pretty cool. And, a leader was created.
Now, I want you to use your imagination and visualize the birth of a leader and a movement. I was watching a video called “Leadership From A Dancing Guy” where an entire movement was created in less than 3 minutes. It’s one of the best videos on leadership and I thought it was a perfect example to share. Close your eyes and imagine you are at a music festival. There is a song blaring over the loudspeakers and people are sitting on the grass enjoying the weather, the music and each other. Out of nowhere comes a young man who is dubbed “The Shirtless Dancing Guy” and he starts dancing … by himself. Just dancing away and having a blast. What happens next is amazing. This is part of the official transcript of the video so listen for what’s happening as well as the lessons:
“A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!
Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore – it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.
The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.
A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers because new followers emulate followers – not the leader.
Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!
As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry.”
Ok, now open your eyes. Can you see how leadership can be created? Whether it’s Simon Says or The Dancing Guys, leaders can be anyone who takes the lead and runs with it.
Let me share some top qualities of a successful leader:
- The successful leader has a vision: Where are you now, where do you want to be and how are you going to get there. You want to make sure your vision is crystal clear and easy to follow.
- The successful leader communicates well: Now that you have a vision, you need to share that with others so that the communication lines are open. Make the vision short, sweet, and to the point, but make the lines of communication open and accessible.
- The successful leader is supportive: Find out what your team and partners are reaching for and help them find a way to begin that journey to achieve their goals. If someone needs more support offer it. If someone needs more support and doesn’t want it, help them to find another position they might be better suited for. Be a role model that others can look up to.
- The successful leader believes in his/herself: As a leader your confidence is what others are attracted to. They will grow from your mistakes as well as soar from your attitude. Admit when you don’t know something or that you have made a mistake instead of blaming others. When a situation involves others, put your defensive attitude away and listen to those involved. They will tell you what you need to hear so that you can turn around a negative situation. Be proactive rather than reactive.
- The successful leader creates an environment of motivation and productivity: While we sometimes “assume” we know what others want and need; your best option is to ask. Ask what motivates others. You’ll be surprised when money doesn’t show up in the conversation. Ask where they want to be in another year. Don’t be surprised when someone says they want your position. Ask what’s important to them. You won’t be surprised when family is at the top of the list. Ask questions and they will know you are interested in what they are doing as well as who they are. Ask, ask, ask and then listen.
Let them share with you what is a challenge and what is a triumph. Offer positive feedback and let them know some of the same struggles you might have experienced and how you overcame those. Celebrate with them when they reach a milestone. Let them take credit for a job well done, a project completed on or before the deadline or an idea that had an amazing result.
Remember the dancing man. It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader. When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.
As John Maxwell said, “A good leader is a person who takes a little more of his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”