A Leader Only When You have Followers

This YouTube video was shot in May 2009 at the Sasquatch Music Festival, which is held at the Gorge Amphitheater outside of Wenatchee, WA.

It shows how one shirtless dancing guy creates a wonderful dance party – in minutes – all because of the commitment and willingness of his first follower.

I learned about this impactful video from one of our culture change clients, the senior vice president of a US-based retail giant. Joel’s division includes seven states, over 300 stores, and more than 85,000 employees (!).

Joel is a fabulous servant leader and has a very clear vision of how he wants employees to feel at work every day: trusted, honored, and respected by their bosses and peers. This won’t happen without leaders across the business serving their employees FIRST and their customers SECOND.

Joel sees this video clip as the perfect demonstration of followers making a huge impact, very quickly. In discussions with managers in his division, Joel describes not just the cool dance party this guy generates – but how impressive it is for that first follower to join in the dance. Without followers, leaders are not leading – they’re just filling a role.

Joel is trying to be his division’s “dancing guy” – describing how to manage their business in a values-aligned way, to benefit employees so they perform well AND love the work they do, which positively impacts the customer experiences, etc. – and Joel cannot accomplish this vision unless his managers follow him.

Joel’s vision and values – and his team’s commitment to clear expectations and accountability – have helped the stores in his division increase performance in three vital areas over the last two years: employee satisfaction, customer service ratings, and profitability. Joel is a marvelous, inspiring, effective leader – you can tell by observing the motivated, skilled, high-performing followers at his side!

What do leaders do that inspire YOU to follow them? Add your thoughts in the comments section below!

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