Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy Video

Watch this video and see a movement happen start to finish in under 3 minutes, and listen to the commentator has he draws some good leadership lessons from it. 

 The commentator makes a lot of insightful observations about leadership, but I think he misses the biggest one of all.

First, the good stuff:

  • A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous.
  • He must be easy to follow.
  • The first follower has a crucial role…. He shows everyone else how to follow.
  • It takes guts to be a first follower. You stand out and brave ridicule yourself.
  • The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.
  • The second follower is a turning point… 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.
  • Everyone needs to see followers because new followers emulate followers not the leader.

The commentator closes with this interesting paragraph:

Leadership is over-glorified. It was the first follower who transformed the lone nut into a leader. There’s no movement without the first follower. See, we’re told that we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective. The best way to make a movement if you really care is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.


I think he is mistaken when he says, “leadership is over-glorified” and puts more emphasis on the first follower. Yes, the first follower is crucial, and so is the second and the third. But a good leader knows this. A good leader also understands that being an early follower is risky.

“Dancing Guy” was lucky that someone took the big risk of being the first follower.  And someone else took the risk of being the second follower.  More often than not, lone dancing guy ends up dancing by himself.

A better way to lead – one that increases a leaders chances of success – is to identify potential early followers and meet with them privately.  One by one build a core that is committed to the movement.  Then when that core is in place, go public with the movement.  At that point it already has momentum and it’s easy for the crowd to join.

What do think about the importance of the first followers?  How important is it to build that core of early followers privately, through one-on-one conversations?

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