Leadership Lessons from EACUBO NY Spring 2014 — Dancing Guy, Followers, and Decision-Making

Howard Teibel at The New School

I am honored to have been speaker at the EACUBO New York City Spring 2014 WorkshopThe New School is a beautiful facility, and served as a terrific location for creative thinking and discussion. 

As a refresher, our time together was focused in two areas: effective decision-making, and leadership. If these concepts were presented as a Venn Diagram, you’d be looking at a circle — or pretty close to it. 

You see, making decisions effectively is inherently a product of leadership. It is the mark of someone who has exercised the critical muscle of influence, whatever their role in the organization may be. Just because you don’t have managerdean, or vice president before your name does not mean you don’t have influence in the organization.

Consider our discussions of the “Dancing Guy.” In just three minutes, we witnessed a lone, shirtless dancer in a field transform into a movement of a hundred or more. How did he do it? As entrepreneur and narrator Derek Sivers frames it, dancing guy was a Lone Nut, committing his passion all alone to something he believes is truly great

But even more importantly, he had the benefit of help from his first follower, that special believer who had the courage to commit his own influence to a cause he believed it. That courage transformed the Lone Nut into a leader that others could follow without fear. 

Now that you’ve had a few weeks to settle back into your work, I ask you to think about these two take-aways, and evaluate how you are applying them each day. 

  1. Do you understand the scope of your own influence? Take the time to reflect on your own work and expertise. Are you regularly considered the Lone Nut? Or are you brave enough to be the First Follower? Where will your own influence lend support to truly important — great — projects in your institution?
  2. Bring a group together, and deconstruct a project. If you haven’t had the opportunity to apply the decision-making model to a current project, do it soon! Condition yourself to approach new challenges using the model and watch how effectively you are able to generate new ideas and overcome past logjam.

Leadership is a powerful and mysterious role, but it doesn’t come courtesy of a title. We are all capable of becoming leaders, of driving change in our organizations. It’s your job to develop an eye for opportunities to lead change as the Lone Nut, or to apply your own influence artfully and effectively as the First Follower. Keep your eyes peeled — these opportunities are everywhere!

Leaders are those who empower others.
— Bill Gates
Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
— Warren Bennis
Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.
— John Maxwell