Lead With A Song

In days gone by, wisdom was passed from generation to generation by shamans and minstrels, poets and bards. Many great life lessons were handed down by story tellers like those in Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

For instance, The Boy Who Cried Wolfreminds us that humor carried too far diminishes our credibility.

Remember the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes” The morals abound: never surround yourself with yes-men, pride can be your downfall, and oh yes, don’t go out in public naked no matter how good someone tells you that you look.

Songs were also a tool used in history to pass down ancient legends and valuable truths. In modern Western culture, songs continue to be a vehicle for some amazing truths to be shared with us even today.

9 Leadership Truths From Song Lyrics

Consider these nine truths from memorable song lyrics as you develop and grow as a leader:

  1. “All lies and jest, still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”
    ~ Simon & Garfunkel

    Be Accepting, Listen Well - Even to the hard stuff. Character based leaders are far from perfect. We will make mistakes, we will fail. Wise leaders listen to constructive criticism, challenging co-workers and questions to their leadership. Just like a sharp pain in the chest gets our attention about our health, painful criticism can point out those trouble areas that are crying for attention.

  2. "Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself."
    ~ Eric Clapton

    Be Cautious, Judge Slowly - Sometimes our mouths run ahead of our brains as we’re assigning blame. Slow down and do some honest self-evaluation and soul searching before looking beyond yourself to criticize. Own your failures. It takes courage to face the problems staring you in the face.

  3. “Even the genius asks questions.”
    ~ Tupac Shakur

    Keep Growing, Never Stop Learning - Leaders are learners. Leaders are readers. Leaders have an insatiable yearning to know more, grow more and broaden their knowledge and experience horizons. Leaders who believe they've arrived really haven’t. They’ve only taken a lazy detour into ignorance. If we learned like we were going to live a thousand years, and lived like this was our last day on Earth, how would that affect our decisions?

  4. "For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels."
    ~ Frank Sinatra

    Be Passionate - Stand up for what you believe in. Leaders may not know exactly where they are going, but they know they are going somewhere. Leaders with a vision and passion to match are not bowing to others words, or being someone who kneels. Beyond the where leaders are going, they always know the why regardless of what other voices are saying. If you're leading, know why.

  5. “Freedom, well, that's just some people talking. Your prison is walking through this world all alone.”
    ~ The Eagles

    Be Sociable, Relationships Matter - Some leaders self-impose a no-friendship rule in the workplace out of fear. Fear that others might take advantage of them, fear that they can’t trust themselves to be impartial. Leaders who operate in a vacuum of authentic relationships do a great injustice to their team and to themselves. Payoffs for investments in relationships are huge for everyone.

  6. “It seems to me, sorry seems to be the hardest word.”
    ~ Elton John

    Be Repentant, Apologize Authentically - Do a quick count in your personal history. How many times have you made a mistake or been on the wrong side of an argument? Now count again. How many times did you apologize when you were wrong? Same number? Step up and speak up. Admit it when you’re wrong and then move on.

  7. “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on.”
    ~ The Beatles

    Be Hopeful, Tomorrow Is A New Day - Admit it. Some things - lots of things - are out of your control. It’s called life. When challenges throw you or your team into a tailspin, or maybe a total failure, you have two choices. You can let it overwhelm you, or you can learn from it and move on. Life goes on.

  8. “You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing.”
    ~ Bob Dylan

    Be Adapatable, Learn To Roll With It - Leaders know it takes more than working hard to succeed. You have to work smart. Plan well. Adapt. Work harder and smarter. Change some more. The only thing constant in this world is change. Tomorrow will be a new day full of its own challenges. Roll with it.

  9. "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime you just might find, you get what you need."
    ~ The Rolling Stones

    Be Content, Embrace The Difference Between Needs & Wants - We all have this ideal in our brains of how we want our career, our family and our life to go. Few ever realize those ideals. And you know what? It’s OK. Happiness isn't some impossible state of nirvana - it’s the natural result of enjoying the life you make. Go make yours something incredible.

Growing as a leader means more than attending conferences and reading books. Try listening to the radio.

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