Leadership lessons can be found in almost every area of our culture.
While sitting in traffic recently, I was listening to my local Classic Rock station and thinking about various topics, hoping for some inspiration for this article. As I crept along on I-95, “Already Gone” by The Eagles was playing on the radio. There is a line of lyrics in the song that says “so many times it happens, we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key“.
It struck me that this was basically a mini leadership lesson reminding us that we have the ability and the resources to overcome challenges in our personal and professional lives. As the song ended, I began to make a mental list of some other song lyrics that I felt represented lessons about leadership.
Here are my 10 leadership lessons from classic rock lyrics.
Communicate a Vision. Confident leaders take every opportunity to communicate a clear vision that inspires their team to perform at a high level.
“I knew that if I had the chance, I could make those people dance, and maybe they’d be happy for a while.”- Don McLean, “American Pie”
Be appreciative of your employees. Communicate with them often and let them know that you believe in them and the work they do. Above all, never forget that your employees are your most valuable assets and by helping them succeed, you succeed.
“Thanks for the joy that you’re givin’ me,… I want you to know I believe in your song.“ – Dobie Gray, “Drift Away”
Keep an Open Mind. When faced with a challenge, leaders keep an open mind and seek out the ideas of others. Look for solutions that might be right in front of you.
“The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…the answer is blowin’ in the wind” –Bob Dylan, “Blowing in the Wind”
Establish Goals. The strongest leaders communicate expectations and goals clearly and then work to get everyone in the organization focused on accomplishing those goals. Stay focused, don’t fall into the trap of doing what has always been done.
“You can choose from phantom fears, and kindness that can kill. I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose Freewill.” – Rush “Permanent Waves.”
Motivate Your Team. Your team members are looking to you as their leader for passion, enthusiasm, and motivation. As a leader, you should do your best to stay positive and keep morale up among members of your team.
“Sing us a song you’re the piano man, sing us a song tonight. Cause we’re all in the mood for a melody, and you’ve got us feeling all right.” – Billy Joel, “Piano Man”
Listen and Seek to Understand. Let your team members offer their opinions on issues. Listen to their thoughts before speaking. It shows respect and that you value what they have to say.
“People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening. – Paul Simon, “Sound of Silence”
Set Goals on an Annual Basis. Each year, set goals with due dates and assign responsibility for accomplishing each goal. Failure to set annual goals often results in companies experiencing the same results each year.
“We’re just two lost souls, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year”. – Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here”
Don’t Be Discouraged by Challenges. View every challenge as an opportunity. Don’t be afraid to fail. As Zig Ziglar says “Failure is an event, not a person”. Leaders are persistent and do not give up until they succeed.
“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.” – James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”
Find Balance in Life. At some point in everyone’s life, they look back at their past and are either proud of how they prioritized things in their lives or they have regrets. Don’t have regrets.
“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday”. –The Beatles, “Yesterday”
Be Positive about the Future . Above all, be positive. Leaders are always looking toward the future with optimism. Communicate that optimism to the entire organization.
“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, don’t stop, it will soon be here.”- Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop”
Basic lessons of leadership are somewhat universal and it is interesting to find examples within many areas of our culture. As a leader, are you following these lessons? What other lessons do you blend into your leadership style? Would your team members agree that you practice these 10 lessons?
Ken Jones, AIA, LEED AP is a Vice President at Grimm + Parker Architects in MD
A service-focused leader, Ken helps create meaningful architecture + client success
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