Enthusiasm, just like content, can go viral in an organization.
Leaders must be the “Patient Zero” in this scenario; caught by a vision, an idea of what could be in an organization, they then inspire to get constituents to strive alongside them.
Is this always a positive act?
Steve Jobs is lauded for being a visionary leader on projects and product development at Apple, but he was (from all accounts in his biography) a horrible human being. But, he’s in good company: Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Martin Luther, and even Moses and Winston Churchill all had bad habits, poor temperaments and sometimes lacked the words to inspire their followers.
Should leaders be required to take “humanity” lessons before leading?
We don’t know, but without a shared vision—even if that vision comes from the mind of a flawed leader—followers won’t know where to go, and leaders will just walk around in circles by themselves.
How does a leader catch the virus of inspiring a shared vision?
- Know your constituents—Know who follows you and understand and acknowledge their deeper “whys.” Steve Jobs did, and so does your local community organizer.
- Know your vision—Know what you want to do and why you want to do it. Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, wanted an answer from the Pope about several things. So, he created the medieval version of a blog post and it went viral…
- Know your own passion—Know when passion will wane and when it will wax. Moses went off to talk to God in the wilderness occasionally, leaving the people he was leading to their own devices. It helped him.
Speaking the language of virality is the key to spreading enthusiasm. And, in an era of increasingly fractured attention spans, leaders don’t have to go viral to the masses, just to the long tail of truly committed followers.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: email@example.com