12 Most Overlooked Leadership Nuggets from the Artistry of Lady Gaga
I have a confession: I love Lady Gaga. Yes, this 40-year old man digs Lady Gaga. I’m a fan of not only her music, but her creativity and business savvy. I’m not crazy about all things Gaga. Thematically, for example, my dislikes center on the endless costumes and some messages in her work. I explain these in the list below.
In preparing to write this post, I searched for other blog posts that paired Gaga and leadership. Apparently I’m not the first to see parallels in her work. Damn. So, since I prefer to blaze my own trails, I decided to list 12 overlooked leadership nuggets by scrutinizing her work through a business lens. Believe it or not, it was worth the mental exercise.
1. Have a cause
Gaga is gaga about acceptance, inclusion. She is an influential voice raising money to help homeless kids. Translate that into the business world: Leader’s what do you stand for? What is your cause? How do you make it easily known? Relatable? And how does it benefit others? How consistent are you in advancing your cause? Enrolling others?
Whether performing live or a guest on The View, Gaga’s passions are clear. She is consistent in her messages in what she does and doesn’t support. And she knows what her fans care about. Leaders, let’s turn the spotlight the other direction – on employees. Uncover and expose their passions so they can shine for your customers and each other.
3. Know when to ease up
Lady Gaga will need to slow down at some point. Consumer acceptance is fickle. If we believe a company, artist, athlete is hogging the spotlight, we begin to lost interest. Vicious, but true. Easing up or finding the pause button is like quiet repose for a leader. It allows you to see things you’ll miss when whizzing from one thing to the next. It gives everyone else a chance to catch their breath.
4. Know your craft
Lady Gaga went to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She knows what she’s doing. Influential leaders invest the time to advance their craft by understanding context, inputs, concerns, long- and short-term implications related to their cause. Diligence is a must to stay on top of trends balanced against long-standing leadership and management principals.
5. Befriend competition
Newsflash: Lady Gaga attended a Britney Spears concert. Alright maybe not so newsy. But Britney is competition. The leadership nugget: we can like what the competition does and even give our support. We can even learn a few “moves” from them.
6. Surround yourself with talent
The creative team that creates Lady Gaga’s dresses are vital to her carefully constructed persona. In our knowledge economy where employees have honed their talent, it’s vital to assemble a team to compliment the leader’s talents, cause, passions, and pace.
Recently the pop star was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. Her critiques were both honest and supportive. To bring out the talent in others, leaders must learn the art of encouragement, even when it includes sharing difficult feedback.
8. Fame is a monster not worth chasing
With two albums with Fame in their title, Gaga does like to promote being in the spotlight. This isn’t bad. However, when the intention is to be known instead of serving others, missteps are bound to occur. Mixed messages ruffle feathers. We don’t need leadership that centers on a “look at me” message. Gaga doesn’t either.
9. Stay relevant
In two years, Lady Gaga won 14 Billboard Music awards. Cause, passion, and craft masterfully executed. Her fans are called “Little Monsters.” Can you see a connection? The connection a leader needs with his employees must evolve to stay relevant. His craft must remain relevant. Connecting with employees helps a leader to stay relevant.
10. Controversy is exhausting
Most leaders don’t have a PR firm ready to handle organizational missteps. Too much controversy is exhausting. It rattles confidence. It sparks needless conversations. Let’s have conversations that advance the cause, not replace it.
11. Costumes leave us suspicious
I want to know more about the Lady Gaga behind the hounds-tooth glasses. Leaders aren’t wearing costumes, but too many hide behind a title. Let’s hear concerns. Let’s have a glimpse of what you’re like on the weekend. We need to connect with leaders and not some made up character.
Gaga takes down her platinum albums before recording a new album. Why? To start all over as though she’s won nothing. It’s a reminder for leaders that previous successes do not make us special. They do not make us better than others. We must always step back before moving forward when we take on a new project or lead a team.
Lady Gaga is an artist who also has business smarts. We need leaders who can better blend their business smarts with their artistry.
Alright, so what do you think? What would you add? Or would you say I’ve gone too far with the Gaga parallels?
Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey. Some rights reserved, used under creative commons license.