Transforming a Lone Nut Into a Leader

Who advocates for you when you’re the CEO, sitting atop the heap? Who enhances and amplifies the credibility of your vision with employees? Who helps you make sure you and your business are well on your way to achieving the goals you’ve set?

Who is your First Follower?

In a 2010 TED talk (link at the end of the article — keep reading!), Derek Sivers introduced the concept of the First Follower, or the person who “transforms a lone nut into a leader.” The First Follower helps create a movement, first by being embraced as an equal by the lone nut and then by showing others why and how to follow as well.

Having a strong First Follower is critical to entrepreneurial success. They are the go-to person on the leadership team whose influence, attitude, and skill set has helped the company develop an upbeat and achievement-oriented culture. This person:

  • Grasps the big picture — warts and all
  • Advocates for pretty much everybody (including the leader!) with the goal of bringing greater unity and alignment between the leader’s vision and employees’ skills and interests
  • Makes sure the business maintains focus on the vision and goals
  • Works with individuals to define and achieve goals and improvement, and to increase their value to the overall organization
  • Provides presence and leadership when the CEO needs to spend more time facing outside the company
  • Is the voice when no one else wants to speak, knows what to say, or knows how to say it

A First Follower is expected to facilitate company growth in part by translating the lone nut’s vision into messages and practices that inform, resonate with, and motivate each employee. With that work now handled, the lone nut can focus much more on overall vision, direction, and sales. People are doing the work they are best suited to do, nutty as it may sound.

With those two individuals thus assigned, it becomes much easier to maintain focus, hire and retain talented individuals, sponsor a great culture, and most importantly routinely achieve 15–25% annual revenue growth.

If you (the leader) are dealing with issues such as an antagonistic / dispirited / demotivated workforce; feeling alone, overwhelmed, or like an inadequate leader; and/or are uncertain how to get everyone pulling in the same direction, you don’t have a First Follower and you need one.

When you team up with a great First Follower, you’ll find the credibility and strength of your message increases exponentially.

When you have a strong second, many more will follow, and you’ll be in a much better position to achieve your definition of success.

Now you may watch the 3-minute video: