14 February 2010

Leaders Yes, Managers No.

I ignore people writing about, or yapping about leadership because my long-standing bias is that these TAG Body Spray-ed charlatans are fleecing $9.95 from hoofed ruminant suburban TV viewers for a CD full of snoring bromides.

At least with this blog post, you get what you pay for.

I agree with some-time circus clown Derek Sivers when he says
Leadership is over-glorified
I have long confused leadership and management.
I bristle at being managed. I can abide being managed by someone if they are mensa-scale smarter, or more experienced. But in collective modesty, our ability to figure out how to proceed is as Garrison Keillor would say, slightly above average. If all goes well, we can persuade everyone to work as a team of equals lending talents to the effort. I believe in self-organization. Other biological systems to it, why can't humans?
Here's the thing
Leadership is some nut inspiring me to do crazy shit. 
Management is a lamp shade blocking my light. 
If someone hasn't done it already, let me say without equivocation command & control management is dead.

Management  & Leadership have never intersected on any Venn diagram universe I have known. One's about control. The other is about inspiration. I don't know about you, but I ain't having the control shit.

Are most innovations born in environments of control or inspiration? Easy question.

Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

Derek Sivers' Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy is an inspiring must-be-seen 3-minute video

Derek's salient observation is that
The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.
This simple observation was a slap on the head from Captain Obvious. Sivers espouses the First Follower idea.
If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.
Sivers is also the first person to explain how cultural movements get started that made sense.

  • The leader embraces the First Follower as an equal. 
  • The First Follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.
  • The First Follower calls his friends to join then publicly shows everyone how to follow.
  • Being a First Follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. 
  • A few more followers joining the movement stokes momentum.
  • Sustainable movements eventually reach something akin to Gladwell's Tipping Point.
  • As more people jump in, it's no longer risky
Before you know it Bob's your uncle - you've got a movement. We need leaders and we need early adopters bold enough to jump in even if it invites ridicule from peers. Today, a software generated experience might well be the wood pellets that stoke a movement somewhere, but it won't happen without inspired people - crazy nuts and emboldened followers alike.


Read the full text of Derek Sivers' TED talk in his blog post Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy.

  • Derek Sivers keeps saying stuff that makes sense to me.
  • Also, thank you Alan Cooper for the subtle coaching to replace management with command & control management - which is a concise way of saying what I meant.