“The first follower is an underappreciated form of leadership..."

Perhaps it speaks to my quirkiness that from the body of speakers and content presented this week, I am stuck on Pat Bassett’s youtube of a half-naked dancing man and his equally awkward first follower starting a dance movement.  I love how that video so directly demonstrated the power of the first follower in helping a movement evolve and grow.  As the narrator said, “The first follower is an underappreciated form of leadership.  The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.”

Mulling over the half-naked dancer and his new friend altered my view of my own leadership strengths and weaknesses.  I came to ISANNE Leads thinking that I needed to improve my vision setting abilities in order to really become a “great leader.”  While allowing myself to go down “rabbit holes” to think big and create visions is a great goal, I am undervaluing my “first follower” type strengths by solely fixating on vision.  This week, I’ve spent significant time reflecting on how my enthusiasm, my knack for identifying allies, and my ability to translate vision into actionable steps are significant leadership assets.  Like the first follower from the video, I feel comfortable and confident when helping find ways to get others to join in and dance.  Moving on from ISANNE Leads, I want to use this now identified strength more often when working on change movements at my school.

Additionally, I want to expand how we define and teach leadership to our students so our efforts include narratives of multiple types of leaders including first followers.  Too often, I think we project to our students that a leader is the one who stands up first and defines the mission.  Instead, I hope to teach students that they can be leaders in so many roles outside of the front man or founder, be it as the first follower or as a member of a leadership team who adds an invaluable skill or perspective.  We run a student leadership retreat just before school starts in September and I think I will add “broadening leadership skill development to include the first follower and other leadership roles” to my summer thought agenda.