I am excited to introduce the following article contributed exclusively to readers of this blog by Jason Monaghan from the University of Notre Dame Executive Online Education program. For a look at the ad in question, click here.
Every year when I watch the Super Bowl, it amazes me how creative organizations can be in delivering their message. One of the best ads this year (in my humble opinion) is the VW Ad featuring a dog who yearns to experience the new VW Bug. The level of creativity is startling – especially given the success of their ad from last year – and it led me to think about how an effective leadership team must be just as creative on a daily basis.
Here are a few takeaways I thought of from one of 2012’s top Super Bowl commercial contenders:
Every “old dog” has the chance to learn new tricks. Truly effective leaders are constantly courting change. What changes they can't find, they invent, and they stick to their vision no matter what. As soon as you resist change because it would involve giving up “what you know,” you are stifling the chance for development.
Times change – be ready. Be prepared to adjust to opportunities as they emerge. Whether that means staying in shape physically or emotionally, or even pursuing extra education – like a leadership certification or an advanced degree – being in prime shape is critical. Who do you want to be, the overweight dog that can't get through the door once opportunity comes knocking, or the one who is lean and mean, ready to chase that new opportunity?
Take a risk. Effective leadership means constantly striving and reaching for new angles. VW had arguably the best Super Bowl ad in 2011 – and they built upon that legacy. The team for this year also knew the smart thing was not doing the “same old, same old.” Instead, they are aiming for new heights by creating a new memorable commercial experience while leveraging their success from last year.
Watch carefully and apply. Be creative in your approach and watch what resonates with your team, clients and customers. VW recognizes the trend in reality television has a few strong threads that resonate with the American audience, and one of them is the life transformation from shows like NBC’s The Biggest Loser. They built this into the new direction for this year’s ad while tying into their former success at the end – kind of like getting two ads for one. Don't be afraid to try a new tactic if you think it will appeal to your audience or team. Your leadership and willingness to try could create an entirely new trend, rather than responding to those already in the marketplace.
The “force” is a creative, visionary skill, not a coercive tool. The last scene where the little Darth Vader reacts to criticism is definitely not the way to respond to dissention. Don't use the “force” to force people to agree. Surround yourself with those who share your passion and your vision and let their ideas and opinions be the force that drives you. Leaders can create an empire by fostering an environment that readily accepts change, new ideas and trust.
Even with the fun and excitement of the Super Bowl this weekend, there are serious leadership lessons to be learned. Excellence in leadership means that change is part of the daily pursuit of organizations who are striving to stay relevant. VW accomplishes this by taking its own twist on the “force” of business.
This guest post was provided by Jason Monaghan with University of Notre Dame Executive Online Education. Jason works with the faculty and staff at Notre Dame Online to develop skill sets for the leaders of tomorrow in Negotiations, Leadership and Management and Business Administration.