New Castle News

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September 13, 2012

Tim Kolodziej: First Follower, not the leader, is the real change agent

NEW CASTLE — Leadership is overrated.

There, I said it.

I know, I know. I’m the guy who studies leadership and writes about it as often, if not more, than any other topic.

But I’m changing my mind.

Leadership is overrated. And I can thank “The Dancing Guy” for rocking my world.

Go ahead, call me a “lone nut” on this issue. Yet all I need to do is identify and affirm a First Follower.

Then we’ve got ourselves a movement.

As proof, please take a moment to watch this video of “The Dancing Guy.” Throughout the short clip, entrepreneur Derek Sivers offers some brilliant commentary about the evolution of a movement. Note how Dancing Guy morphs from a “lone nut” into a leader — all because he’s joined by a First Follower.

So the big question is: who’s the REAL influencer in this story?

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, arguably the best coach in any sport who’s ever lived, is a master at identifying and developing the First Follower.

Think about his great teams and national titles. All featured a strong captain. All featured a key player who bought into the system and encouraged his teammates do the same.

•1991-92 — Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley

•2001 — Shane Battier

•2008 Olympic team — LeBron James and Kobe Bryant

•2010 — Jon Scheyer

•2012 Olympic team — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant

So, were they leaders? Or were they First Followers?

I love how Sivers describes the process. “If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.”

So coaches, maybe it really ISN’T that important to develop leaders on your team.

Instead, look to identify and nurture a First Follower.

Hear that young athletes?

If you’re pondering that role, Sivers has another message for you. “The best way to make a movement,” he says, “is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.”

Urban Meyer had Tim Tebow.

Bill Belichick has Tom Brady.

Joe Girardi has Derrick Jeter.

So, what about your coach? Who does he or she have?

If you believe in your coach, then be the first person to stand up and be counted.

It doesn’t take freakish athletic ability. It doesn’t take Ivy League intellect. It doesn’t even take leadership ability.

All it takes is guts.

And in many ways, that’s what true leadership is all about.

Do you follow me?


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