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The First Follower

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

There's a wonderful video on YouTube that shows a music festival somewhere in the U.S. In the video, one man is dancing to the music in the middle of a field while everyone else watches him uncomfortably. The dancer is completely uninhibited, lost in the joy of the music, like a child. But no one else moves...until one other person finally breaks free from the stasis that seems to hold everyone else still and joins the first dancer in the field. With that unspoken act of "permission," the entire crowd rushes into the field and starts dancing as one. Human beings are group-oriented. There's a reason that more people fear speaking in public than they fear death: speaking in public means being apart from the group, alone, vulnerable. The group implies safety, even if it can also restrict and stifle us. We need permission-overt or implied-to break free from the group's gravitational pull. That's why the First Follower is such a powerful concept. One person breaking from the group to take positive action often makes it "all right" for others to do the same. That's one of the ways that one person can inspire and lead an entire team. What are you doing to encourage people to be First Followers? What do you do when you're in position to be the First Follower?

There's a wonderful video on YouTube that shows a music festival somewhere in the U.S. In the video, one man is dancing to the music in the middle of a field while everyone else watches him uncomfortably. The dancer is completely uninhibited, lost in the joy of the music, like a child. But no one else moves...until one other person finally breaks free from the stasis that seems to hold everyone else still and joins the first dancer in the field. With that unspoken act of "permission," the entire crowd rushes into the field and starts dancing as one.

Human beings are group-oriented. There's a reason that more people fear speaking in public than they fear death: speaking in public means being apart from the group, alone, vulnerable. The group implies safety, even if it can also restrict and stifle us. We need permission-overt or implied-to break free from the group's gravitational pull.

That's why the First Follower is such a powerful concept. One person breaking from the group to take positive action often makes it "all right" for others to do the same. That's one of the ways that one person can inspire and lead an entire team.

What are you doing to encourage people to be First Followers? What do you do when you're in position to be the First Follower?

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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams