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Barefoot leadershipFear of others’ opinions and judgement stops many of us leading the way we want to lead. It stops us being the people we want to be – the people we were made to be, the best we can be.

Peter Bregman, in an HBR article, coins the phrase ‘barefoot leadership’ to describe the courage of leaders who step outside the norm and risk others’ criticism and ridicule, to fulfil their leadership conviction.

Bregman’s own experience of overcoming his fear started only when he saw someone else take the first step (literally!).  This is a helpful illustration of an underrated form of leadership that Derek Sivers describes as being the ‘first follower’.  If you haven’t seen Sivers’ TED.com presentation “How to start a movement”, watch it – it’s three minutes of your life you will not regret!

Sivers encourages people not (just) to seek to be the first, but to look out for others doing great things and be their first follower: it’s what transforms a lone nut into a leader!  And it’s also a helpful way of learning to overcome the fear of others’ opinions, until we raise the courage to be the first, the ‘lone nut’.

Whether you’re a lone nut, the first follower, or someone aspiring to either, Leaders’ Journal, written with colleagues John Greenway and Andy Blacknell, seeks to provide both the inspiration and the means to help make that a reality.  Be the leader you are designed to be free from the fear of others that so often inhibits.