Leadership lessons from a dancing guy

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In this series, personal coach / trainer & owner of In2Motivation Peter Koijen talks about how internationals in the Netherlands can make their time at work more enjoyable: from leadership and motivation tips to increasing work pleasure and to altering your mindset in an ever-changing work environment.

A great example of leadership

If you search "leadership lessons from a dancing guy" on YouTube, you get to see a great example of leadership (see below).

Leadership equals following! It is the first follower that makes a leader. Not a lone nut, but a crazy bunch of nuts.

But how will you get the first follower? Let me first share a metaphor that I often use in company trainings.

The story of Pablo

Pablo is a 10 year old boy who lives in a beautiful village high up in the mountains where the colours are bright, the birds are singing, and the average temperature is about 35 to 40 degrees.

Pablo is just recovering from a disease that made all of his hair fall out. He had gone completely bald but still had to go to school, so his parents gave him a fur cap to cover his head. Apparently, wearing that cap in 40 degree heat wasn’t a nice experience.

When he arrived at school, Pablo experienced the reactions that he had feared. The other kids didn’t know how to properly respond, so they started bullying him. They called him names and stole his cap.

Pablo had the worst day of his life and, as expected, he begged his parents not to go to school again. His parents, though, tried to motivate him:
 "Pablo, you have the genes of your grandfather who was a very brave man," his mother told him.
 "Boys don’t cry. Cheer up and it will be over soon," his father said.
But Pablo wasn’t really convinced.

After three days of bullying something unexpected happened. The teacher entered the classroom wearing a fur cap and when she removed it, all the kids were silent: she had shaved her head!

The next day, two children had shaved their heads and by the end of the week almost all of them had done the same.

And from that moment, it was safe for Pablo to be who he really was, to be part of the group again. It was a lesson that he will remember forever!

Leading & Following

Leading and following is a natural human reaction / behaviour. People tend to follow each other to feel connected even when they are not aware of it.

So what can you take from this metaphor as a leader? And by a leader, I mean everyone acting as a leader (parent, friend, colleague, manager or any other role you play in life).

To practice your leadership skills, I’d like to share three important notes:

 A leader should have the ability to follow

Follow the emotions and feelings of someone else. Be able to follow the rhythm before you initiate a new direction. You can follow others non-verbally, verbally or in the way they express themselves. Remember that the best way to build a connection with someone is to first follow them.

 You need positive reference experience

One way of doing this is to give and receive appreciation. Even a simple compliment can be sufficient. Learn how to receive it so people can feel open to give you more.

 Leave the past behind

Everything that happened in the past should be a good lesson and nothing more. Start thinking about the future to create new possibilities.

Leaders express their own vision and rest assured: there are always people to follow your lead when you respect theirs. Out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.

Leadership is overrated, it is the first follower that will lead the crowd and is going to be respected as the informal leader. In a society and working environment it is becoming more and more about informal leadership.

And when you lead by following, you will be able to achieve great things for yourself and others.

In2Motivation is an international personal development training and coaching company run by Peter Koijen. For more information on introduction workshops and international NLP training courses in Amsterdam, please visit the website or send an email.

Peter Koijen


Peter Koijen

owner of in2motivation

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