What can leaders learn from Amanda Palmer?

Olaf Lewitz recently wrote a blog post and it included the following TED talk from Amanda Palmer:

Amanda is a musician who decided to give her music for free and ask fans to contribute as much as they’d like. To date, almost 25.000 people funded her next album for a total of almost $1.2 million.

Kickstarter project by Amanda Palmer

I was most impressed with a part in her talk where she says:

The media asked: “Amanda, the music industry is tanking and you encourage piracy. How did you make all these people pay for music?”. And the real answer is: I didn’t make them. And through the very act of asking people, I’d connected with them, and when you connect with them, people want to help you.”

I too get this question a lot: “How do I make my team members do X?”. Team leaders and Scrum Masters seem to be the ones in more desperate need for an answer.

But the real answer is: you can’t. You can’t make people do things. They have to want to. This reminded me of the Buffalo Bridle from Jerry Weinberg’s The Secrets of Consulting: “You can make buffalo go anywhere, just so long as they want to go there”.

In order for people to want to help, they have to want to. And what will determine them to want to help you, just as Amanda discovered, is you connecting to them. Telling them honestly: “I see you”.


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