[July 18, 2019] Great leaders think about the future and imagine great possibilities. Their job is to envision something exciting and even ennobling. In this way, they get buy-in for their ideas and enthusiasm for the way to get there. Several years ago at a company called Juniper Networks, a senior staff member created a group called the “Thinkers Club” to imagine the future.
“One day [the Thinker’s Club] will be a hub for innovative thinking, where people brainstorm on some of the most difficult issues and seek innovative solutions, and the go-to place where creative solutions emerge.” – Vittal Krishnamurthy, Juniper Networks, 2010
Krishnamurthy realized that however, noble leader aspirations are to make people’s lives better, visions seen only by leaders themselves are insufficient to create an enduring movement.1 He realized that to enlist others in a common vision; he had to appeal to shared aspirations. This challenge and their success are what made the group a key part of Juniper.
Likewise, I see hundreds of Boy Scouts going about their daily lives here at Scout Camp, and when I speak to them, they are honest and surprisingly straightforward about their aspirations. The camp’s leadership has been able to tap into this and make the whole environment inviting to all, fun, challenging, and safe. It takes a special talent to bring so many boys and adult leaders together to make this happen successfully. My hat is off to them for it.
Young boys don’t naturally come with a commitment to much of anything. That is why leaders understand that you can’t command commitment; you do have to inspire it. Boys (actually all people) have to believe that you understand their needs and have their interests at heart. You have to have clear goals and a vision to make a positive difference. That is why I like Boy Scout Camp and the folks that are here.
The day-to-day challenge of leadership can result in greatness, but only if we surpass the individual. No person, on their own, can achieve great things by themselves. Even those that discovered some of the greatest of humankind’s knowledge understood that only by enlisting others could that discovery become a reality.
Vittal Krishnamurthy created greatness through his Thinker’s Club. And that is the epitome of leadership.
- The Leadership Challenge, Fifth Edition, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, 2012.