WSSC's Andrew Brunhart Considers Leadership Lessons of Batkid

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Information about WSSC's Andrew Brunhart Considers Leadership Lessons of Batkid

Published on February 3, 2014

Author: andrewbrunhart



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? Andrew Brunhart considers.

Batkid  and  Leadership   Andrew  Brunhart   December  5,  2013     Forbes  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.    

Andrew  Brunhart  is  currently  leading  the  start-­‐up  of  new  functions  for  the  Bureau  of   Engraving  and  Printing  focusing  on  strategic  change,  portfolio  and  project   management,  order  management  and  delivery  systems,  and  quality  assurance.   Previously,  Andrew  Brunhart  was  Chief  Operating  Officer  of  the  United  States  Mint   charged  with  leading  a  turnaround  to  become  a  learning,  accountable,  results-­‐ oriented  organization.  Prior  to  this  service,  he  was  Chief  Executive  Officer  of  the   Washington  Suburban  Sanitary  Commission  (WSSC)  in  Laurel,  Maryland,  the  nation’s   eighth  largest  combined  water  and  wastewater  utility  serving  2M  citizens  of  two   counties.  In  that  capacity,  Andrew  Brunhart  led  utility-­‐wide  turnaround  efforts  and   guided  revitalization  of  Engineering  and  Capital  Programs  ($1.5B)  proactively   addressing  WSSC’s  aging  infrastructure  via  1,500  employees.  During  his  tenure,  WSSC   received  recognition  as  one  of  the  “Best  Places  to  Work”  in  Maryland  for  three   consecutive  years.      

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