By 2010, Dr. Rob McKenna, had spent nearly twenty years working with corporations, churches, universities and other not-for-profits as a senior leadership consultant. In each case, these organizations were struggling to find a better way to develop their leaders. The pre-packaged, generic content designed for the lowest common denominator, or based on pie-in-the-sky platitudes about managing and decision-making had failed them. Their leaders were learning through intentional content and conversations that supported the raw personal challenges they were are facing in real-time, and the specific ways they wanted to grow going forward. Whether it was entrepreneurs, executives, first-time managers, pastors, executives, engineers, government leaders, nurses, professors, or university students, leadership development required vulnerability, confidentiality, and a more holistic set of supporting tools and relationships that would cross the boundaries of identity and results, business and service, vulnerability and courage, and work and life.
In that same year, BadBobby.com (now the WiLD Toolkit) was launched as a web-based leadership development tool built on three decades of research on how leaders in business, ministry, health care, government, and on university campuses grow and develop on the job. Most importantly, it was a set of tools designed to develop a Whole Leader. Today, there are now over 6,500 leaders from 31 organizations around the world who have a reach to nearly 4.5 million people in their organizations.
WiLD Leaders, Inc. is the next part of our story, and we hope you will join us…
The Story Behind the Name
It all started with the name Bad Bobby. While that may seem like an unconventional start, it is our lack of convention and desire to see leaders as they really are that is the key to everything we do. The story begins with a confession and a-ha moment. First, the confession. My name is Rob, I am a grown man, and I play video games along with 155 million other Americans (approx. 50% of whom are women). I don’t play every day, but I do enjoy them when I get a chance to play. The fact is that my understanding of video games inspired me to build an online leadership development portal and set of tools that are wholistic, real, and create deep insight and learning for leaders.
One morning several years ago, I had come into the office after playing the game Halo the previous evening. My nephew had informed me that I could go to the website of the game developers and see a mountain of detailed data about my performance in the game. What I discovered not only impacted my performance in the game, but also inspired me to take my leadership development efforts to the next level. I not only was able to track the specifics of my performance, I could see what “virtual” weapons the twelve year olds out there were using to obliterate me. When I took a closer look at my performance the previous evening on one particular map (many online games are played in virtual maps like buildings or natural settings), I noticed that the most common weapon being used against me was a rocket launcher that could only be found at the bottom level of the map. There was my a-ha moment. The next time I played that particular map, I went straight to that rocket launcher and I watched my score jump up by twenty five percent. Then it hit me. I had spent my career investing in developing leaders across the church and in business, but something had been missing. What I really needed to provide for leaders was a way for them to see themselves, and the experiences, lessons, and networks around them that will not only help them lead well, but also to become more aware of who they are as leaders, and how to develop the potential leaders all around them.
In the gaming world, my gamertag (name) is Bad Bobby, and that is why the leadership development tools I originally built lived inside an online portal with the same name. Like me, your identity as a leader includes a variety of different roles, experiences, and people. I am a father, a son, a professor, musician, friend, leader, and former athlete. Since the beginning, I have been committed to providing ministry, business, and emerging leaders with tools that are whole, real, and provide a scaffolding to discover things we may not yet know about ourselves or those we lead. While many leadership development processes and tools are out there, these tools contain a set of tools that will allow you to become more aware, connect the dots between who you are, why you are, and what you do, and will create the real conversations necessary to prepare you for the road ahead as a leader. We must be allowed to get real if we are to develop our capacity to lead well when it matters most, for the sake of all those around us who need that from us. You may not be an online gamer, or have a gamertag, but like me, you play a complex set of interrelated roles in your life as a leader or potential leader. Of that I’m sure.
In 2017 we launched the WiLD Toolkit and BadBobby Leaders became WiLD Leaders. The story behind our necessarily unconventional start still stands as our foundation, but it is time to go WiLD. WiLD stands for Whole and Intentional Leader Development, and that is what we are all about – supporting the development of whole individuals through an intentional system of simple to use tools.
We are here to provide you with a space where you can track what you working on, connect with a network of people to get feedback about your development and goals, and get a virtual mountain of personalized information about your network, strengths, areas for development, and your feelings about work and life. It is our hope that this tool will help you get back on track, stay on track, and find fulfillment and purpose in what you do every day. By the way, we also hope you have fun using it. Life is too short to not have a little fun once in a while.
It is time…
to change the leader development paradigm – the way we identify and prepare this generation of leaders. Radical transformation requires unconventional methods that push leaders to the edge while offering them a safe place to land as they start to learn.
is a complex place requiring leaders who can navigate complexity with care and conviction. If we only raise up leaders with the loudest voice or most confidence, we risk elevating conviction without care, fundamentalism without thoughtfulness, and knowledge without wisdom.
a whole leader is about seeing them as whole people, never shying away from the mistakes that create opportunities to learn, intentionally crossing the false lines drawn between our work as leaders in our families, workplaces, churches and communities.
don’t always feel whole because they live so close to their insecurities and mistakes. Seeing leaders as whole people is not about erasing their past, or minimizing their mistakes or blindly elevating their successes, but about seeing and learning from it all. This is the focus of every tool, coaching conversation, and learning opportunity we offer.