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The Art of Leadership and the Business of Social Change

Following on from my last post on Rudy Giuliani’s session on Leadership in the face of change and crisis I’ve been thinking a lot about another inspiring presentation from In the Room.

This was an uplifting session on leadership and social change presented by a refreshing but very motivational individual – Bill Strickland, President and CEO of the non-profit Manchester Bidwell Corporation.

Bill shared his journey as an inner-city youth from the wrong side of the tracks, to head of an organisation that fosters art, occupational skills, and the equal availability of quality of life for everyone.

Over the past thirty years, Bill has been transforming the lives of thousands of people through the creation of Manchester Bidwell, a jobs training center and community arts program. Working with corporations, community leaders, and schools, he and his staff strive to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities and tools they need to envision and build a better, brighter future.

One thing that has stuck with me from the session was Bill’s obvious and unrelenting passion for his work – the kind of passion that inspires others. His conviction was that an atmosphere of high culture and respect will energise even the most troubled students. He said that people are brought into the world as assets, not liabilities and that he believed every one of us has the potential for remarkable achievement.

This simple, but inspirational notion brought a standing ovation from the audience.

Every one of us can accomplish the impossible in our work and personal lives if given the right inspiration and motivation to do so. People must believe in who they work for, and the outcomes they will achieve – and as a leader, if you can get this right, you’re onto a winner.