5 Ways Leaders Start Movements

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The most influential leader is not always the person at the front of the line. Often it’s the second person–or the first follower.

Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want, shares how creating a movement is really about inspiring a first follower.

Sivers, who created the music service CD Baby in 1997, and sold it a decade later for $22 million, explains how leaders start movements, by first standing alone.

See this movement begin in the brief video below.

5 Ways Leaders Start Movements
  1. Leaders are willing to stand alone and are not afraid to look ridiculous. For example, you might want to eliminate traditional grades in your school. This may seem ridiculous to peers, so you might be alone, at first. Leaders take a chance, which is the first key to starting a movement.
  2. Leaders are easy to follow. In the video, the leader’s dance is so improvisational that it can easily be mimicked, so a first follower is not concerned with learning something difficult. This makes it easy for him to follow the leader and start the movement. If you use a feedback system, like SE2R, you will make it easy for a peer to follow your no-grades classroom movement.
  3. Leaders embrace followers as equals. As Derek Sivers suggests, movements grow more rapidly when it’s not about one person. Inspirational leaders push the spotlight off of themselves and onto the movement.
  4. Leaders value the first follower. Sivers says that the first follower takes a huge risk in following a potential outcast, but it is the first follower who turns a lone idea into a movement. Find one forward-thinking colleague and encourage him or her to join you–not to follow you.
  5. Leaders make their movement public. With the power of social media, it’s easy for leaders to shine a light on the movement. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Who started it? No one remembers, but that person is a true leader. Once you have a movement, share it with colleagues, friends, family and with the world. Remember, as Sivers explains, when the movement begins, others will join willingly, because most people will fear being left alone, if they fail to join the crowd. Again, consider the Ice Bucket Challenge. You had to join or risk being left out of one of the most powerful movements to come along in many years.

So, what are you waiting for? Find your first follower and turn your idea into a movement today.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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