Batkid and Leadership

New Post from Andrew Brunhart

andrew brunhart batkidForbes recently published an article by Justin Wasserman of Kotter International that personally I found deeply insightful, and definitely useful. In it, he points out that Make-A-Wish Foundation’s recent project, five-year-old leukemia patient Miles Scott’s wish to be Batkid for a day, while on the one hand was a great feel-good human interest news item, is was also an incredible example of brilliant leadership.

Make-A-Wish was able to transform the entire city of San Francisco into Gotham City, enlisting the help of the mayor, other officials, the police department, the newspaper, and over 12,000 volunteers. Wasserman’s contention is that the hardest thing about transforming a business isn’t strategy, structure, or culture, but the habits and behaviors of individual people. That the Foundation and San Francisco were able to compel so many thousands of strangers to join the cause, even though it had nothing to do with their own interests, is quite eye opening. So what did they do? And how can we in the business world use the same strategies to inspire our employees and transform our companies?

Firstly, the idea was singular, simple, and easy to support. Thousands of volunteers helped Miles’ wish come true because they knew the task, the purpose, and how they could help out. Secondly, the idea was able to engage everyone, not just a small minority, so the work could be shared and more could get done. Thirdly, people were compelled to act, not told what to do. People contributed their time and energy because they wanted to help, they wanted to make a difference in Miles’ life. Fourthly, people were motivated by feeling (emotion, empathy), not by thought (analysis, data). While information analysis can be useful, often vital, inspiration has more to do with the heart than the mind.

We in the business world don’t always talk about this, but passion and engagement are often the two most important resources a company can have, especially during periods of transition. Employees at all levels must have a shared sense of values and purpose–they must believe in the cause and believe in their ability to support it. Kudos to Justin Wasserman for shedding some light on this topic, as I believe any leader who reads his article is sure to gain valuable knowledge and understanding.

via Andrew Brunhart: A Career in Leadership


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