Since this is the Innovation Leadership Network, it’s probably time to talk about leadership directly. My thoughts today are spurred by two things: first, this is our 300th post, second, this TED talk from Derek Sivers that was posted yesterday – it’s only 3 minutes, and you must watch it!
It’s a great talk, and it raises several important points, including:
- Leadership is based on relationships. The main point that he makes is that it is the first follower that makes someone a leader. Leadership is a network property, not a personal one.
- Secondly, can you believe how many people end up dancing in that mob? It’s astonishing! Small acts can have huge effects. Remember that the next time you’re feeling helpless or overmatched.
- Nurture your first few followers as equals. We’re trying to build movements, not a group of sycophantic followers. This reminds me of Umair Haque’s Builder’s Manifesto – where he says:
Builders forge better building blocks to construct economies, polities, and societies. They’re the true prime movers, the fundamental causes of prosperity. They build the institutions that create new kinds of leaders — as well as managers, workers, and customers.
When Sivers is talking about leadership, he’s really talking about building too – that’s why the people that get involved are so important.
- This leads directly to the last point, leadership is overrated. The point is not to become the head of something, but rather to empower people to go out and make things better. When we’re talking about leading innovation here, we’re talking about empowering people to be autonomous, to help them experiment, to encourage them to make novel connections, and to help them implement their great new ideas. The most important job that a manager has is not leaderhip – it is removing the obstacles that prevent the people on the team from doing these things.
Which brings me to the topic of the 300th post. John and I have been working on this blog a little over a year now – and we are both consistently astonished and thankful at how much impact we’ve had with it. I never would have imagined that the number of people reading our thoughts would have grown as much and as fast as it has. We are sincerely grateful to everyone that has read a post, made a comment, argued with us about an idea, and contributed to the ideas that are developing here. Thank you!
And even though we have ‘leadership’ in the title of the blog, we’re really trying to build. We’re trying to be innovation catalysts. We don’t want you to follow our ideas – we want you take our ideas and use them to help you execute your own.
That’s the best possible response to what you read here – go out and do something. Let’s start building.