Are you a thought leader or a follower?

When I was a kid most coaches and teachers used to tell me to be a leader and not a follower. Amazing how we manage to find ourselves saying the same thing to each successive generation. Why? because it makes sense. But does it? I immediately think of the old saying, “too many chiefs and not enough indians”. Ok so now we should all be confused. Which should we be?  Do we need more indians or more chiefs? Rachel Happe brings up a great point in her post about The Wisdom of The Crowd in which she writes:

Crowds without leadership and inspiration are not necessarily better or worse than individuals.  But a crowd can become both more than the sum of its parts and less than its lowest common denominator depending on how it is inspired.

What this means to me is that although I might want you to be a leader, you might be better suited to be a follower. Some people are born leaders and some are born followers and some can become…. etc etc. However, in social media and Web 2.0, if we’re to look at the whole thing holistically,  the space reeks of the “follower mentality”. Too many people as I said in an earlier post are inclined to be of the “echo mindset”. They possess zero original thought. I’m not sure they are even actually participating in the conversation to be honest. To this end, they are not leaders, and they are shitty followers. So they bring nothing to the table. Period.

Rachel’s original post stemmed from one that Guy Kawasaki wrote on Dadomatic titled, The top 10 lessons his dad taught him in which #3 was:

Don’t follow the crowd. Initially, I thought that he was saying that most people were stupid–and I agreed with him. But I now realize that he was telling me not to follow the crowd because the crowd “mentality” can make smart people do dumb things. This is why I don’t believe in the “wisdom of the crowd” to this day.

Given the current state of all things political and economic, perhaps what we really need is original thought and not noise that has a new tread on it. I know it’s easy to just put some lipstick on the pig, forgive me for using the analogy, but try to step out from under the umbrella and look at things in the social media and web 2.0 world differently. I don’t need you to be a though leader or a follower, I just need you to think.



3 Responses to “Are you a thought leader or a follower?”

  1. 1 Rachel Hape October 6, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Hi Marc –

    Thanks for the riff – it is timely and critical to understand. A democracy depends on an informed and educated citizenry (people who both think and act on their thoughts). So to does a healthy community require people to thoughtfully consider the opinions of their peers…and jump in to disagree if they have a different perspective. I could go on and on regarding my soapbox that the US needs civics to be taught in schools again 🙂

    A health community is not one without conflict, it is one that can maintain itself despite tension. To be a successful community then, everyone has to respect the intentions and motivations of other members even if they disagree. Not a small feat.

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. 2 marc meyer October 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    @rachel, I seem to be stuck on this theme of not folowing and leading right now. In fact my latest post basically is saying, now is the time for original thought and leadership and new ways to do the cool things that we do . Communities are as much about leadership as well but it has to be a collective mindset to be one voice that makes communities thrive. Though I’m not against diferring opinions the collective mindest just might be-respect.

  1. 1 The social media food chain and A-listers « Direct Marketing Observations Trackback on September 30, 2008 at 1:03 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.


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