Your Followers Are Waiting On You To Go First


A few weeks ago, I took my 15-year-old to a Billie Eilish movie concert. What I experienced, outside of a pretty good concert experience, was a memorable leadership lesson. Read this NEW POST if you're a leader. Your team is watching and waiting on you to go first.



Leading can be scary, especially when you take a step and go first. But what you might not see is the support behind you. 

Leaders lead the way.

Which is why leadership is so scary.

Leading the way requires taking risks, potential failure, and embarrassment. Of course, leading the way is also how leaders make things better and make better things.

Leading the Way at a Billie Eilish Movie Concert 

My 15-year-old is a raving Billie Eilish fan. She’ll tell you without hesitation that she’s been following her music since the beginning. There’s no bandwagoning with her.

Several weeks ago, Billie released in theaters a one-night-only concert event. When touring, she recorded a full concert and released it to the world on this one night. Obviously, my daughter insisted we go. So I got us tickets and began listening to Billie on repeat in preparation.

If you’re wondering, my favorite song is “Bellyache.”

Before the concert movie, my daughter mentioned that Billie told her fans to treat the movie as a real concert on Instagram. Meaning she invited everyone to get out of their seats, dance, sing, and participate. This sounds like a great idea until you enter the movie theater and find your nice, plush leather recliner. No one moved when the lights went out and the movie concert began. I mean, we had recliners. AND it’s scary to go first! 

My daughter was not happy. She wanted to experience a concert, not sit and listen to music.

She looked around and realized the next hour and a half would be spent in our recliners unless somebody did something.

But who? That was the question.

Who was going to go first? 

If You’re a Leader, Your Followers are Waiting for You To Lead

I’ll come back to the movie concert in a moment, but let’s talk about your role for a moment.

If you’re a leader, people watch and wait for you to go first. That’s what leaders do. They take the risk and march out into unchartered waters first.

While that feels scary and risky, we often forget that our followers aren’t standing back and watching us from afar. Most of our followers are right behind us. They are for us and with us. They just need us to go first. That’s what leaders do. 

Remember, your followers aren’t cheering for your failure. Your failure is their failure, and your success becomes their success. They have your back when you step out to make things better and make a better thing. They aren’t watching; they are following. Often right behind you, supporting you.

When a leader goes first, all they can see is the unknown future ahead. I imagine if we could also see the group of people behind us, that unknown future wouldn’t look as scary. Going first often looks worse than it is.

But you still have to take that step. 

Somebody Has To Go First…

Enough was enough for my daughter. The concert movie was sold out. Our theater was packed. Through one song, though, it appeared nobody was willing to go first. So my daughter asked the people behind us if she would be in their way if she stood and sang along. They kindly said her standing would be fine. So she did.

She stood up. She went first.

She was alone for a moment, but it took only seconds for the teenagers beside her to stand, too. Albeit reluctantly at first. She didn’t know them, and they didn’t know her, but she was leading, and they followed her lead.

A moment later, another few standers emerged. Then a handful. Pretty soon, everyone was popping up like popcorn. Everyone except the adults — we were in the recliner, and nothing was getting us out.

With the confidence she found in leading people to stand, she decided to take another risk and invite everyone down to the front for a dance party. Guess what? Everyone cheered and followed.

As a father, I was proud to watch my daughter lead some 70 teenagers out of their recliners and into a concert experience.

As a leader, I sat there and thought, “somebody had to go first.”

If You Want To Lead, Go First

Your team is waiting for you to step out and lead the way. If you don’t, one of two things will happen: (1) The team will suffer and eventually crumble under the weight of stagnation, or (2) Someone else will step around you and lead the way. But neither of those options has to be your future. All you need to do is commit to going first while trusting that while you may be in the front, there’s a group of people right behind you in support.

Go first.