Joseph Lalonde says there’s a lot to be learned about leadership from rock stars—and gives five actionable lessons.
There’s something awe-inspiring when you attend a Skillet concert.
John Cooper, of Skillet, really knows how to grab the crowd’s attention, from the way he approaches the stage to the way he makes eye contact with the front row. The way he “brings the goods” demonstrates some great characteristics of the way a rock star leader leads.
Watching how Cooper does it really can help you lead better. In fact, you can lead like a rock star by doing what a rock star does. Here are five things lessons.
1. Know your strengths
Rock stars put a lot of effort into knowing exactly what songs to play and when to play them. They study crowd reactions and billboards to determine just the right mix.
The crowds ALWAYS explode with excitement when Skillet breaks into ” Hero .” Admit it guys, your fists are waving in the air on the third note. Same with “Madness In Me.” Right? These songs have power behind them and every band has to know which of their songs have that kind of power with their audience.
You need to know your strengths, just like the rock stars. What areas are you able to rock out in? You can cultivate your strengths and use them just like the rock stars do.
2. Work on your strengths
Once the great rock stars discover their strengths, they continue to work on them. Rarely will you see a drummer who also plays guitar or vice-versa. Instead, great rock stars focus solely on their strengths. They might know HOW to play many instruments, but they’ll focus on one area of strength for their performances. They study their chosen field meticulously.
Once you discover where you lead best, put forth a mighty effort to practice your strengths. Research has shown that when we work on our strengths, we will improve ourselves and our companies. You can craft great speeches that will knock the socks off of those you’re presenting to. You can connect like no one else, and bring people together. So why aren’t you rocking out your leadership and delivering killer results and building great relationships? Come on guys, you don’t have to be THAT humble, you all have a rock star leader in you, let him onto the stage!
3. Have fun
John Cooper and Skillet know how to have fun , and that makes it easy for the audience to have fun too. Real rock stars bring a certain electricity to the venues where they play their shows.
From the opening chords to the final songs, Skillet brings unending energy to their performance. Not only that, all the rock stars on stage with him look like they’re having fun too! You’ll see rock stars jumping around the stage, swinging their guitars wildly, or slapping the hands of the fans in the audience. They’re having fun and they’re letting others know they’re having fun.
Too many leaders have been seen as stodgy old men. You’re not one of those old farts. You’re better than that. You know you can go out and have fun and still be an exceptional leader. In fact, you can not only make your life fun, you can make work fun for the people you lead as well. Stop holding back and get into the game.
4. Speak up
Rock stars have become much more vocal about the causes they’re passionate about. Skillet has supported the non-profit Angel On Your Shoulder. Bono often speaks of the charities (RED) and Water.org. Switchfoot has shown their support for To Write Love On Her Arms ( an American non-profit organization which aims to present hope for people struggling with addiction, depression, self injury, and thoughts of suicide while also investing directly into treatment and recovery).
Cooper and the rest of Skillet know that if they don’t support Angel On Your Shoulder, and if all rock stars just sat back and stayed silent, lots of great organizations won’t have the exposure they need. But with the platforms rock stars have, they can easily give voice to great causes.
While you may not have to speak up about an organization, you will need to speak up in meetings and in social gatherings that promote your organization.
You’ve got what it takes. You’ve gained valuable insights no one else has. You have value to add to your organization. Don’t let your value go to waste. Be a rock star and speak up. Step into the spotlight and let the focus be on you.
5. Thank others
As the lights fade on a rock star’s concert, you’ll often hear the rock star say something very special. He may take a bow or he may not. However, he will often say a few special words to the crowd.
As Skillet winds down their concerts, Cooper steps to the front and the spotlight begins to shift. You’ll hear Cooper call out to his other band mates. First, Cooper will thank Korey Cooper on the keyboard. Next the spotlight shifts to Jen Ledger on drums and a thank you follows. And last, but not least, a thank you goes out to Seth Morrison on lead guitar.
Finally, Cooper will say “Thank you! Have a good night!”
That right there is a sign of leadership. These rock stars are showing us that we have to be thankful for those looking up to us.
Your team is working hard to help the organization succeed. They’re putting in long hours and taking calls at all hours of the night. Doesn’t this merit your thankfulness? I think so and so do others.
Let’s begin saying thank you to the ones who are doing the dirty, gritty work. Let’s say thank you to the ones who are knocking it out of the park. Let’s say thank you to the ones getting work done.
Becoming a rock star leader isn’t easy, just like becoming a rock star isn’t easy. You’ll have to work hard on your skills in order to lead well.
Remember: Find your strengths, work on your strengths, have fun, speak up, and thank others. Doing this will earn you the title of Rock Star Leader!
Are you a rock star leader?
Photo: Flickr/ John Walsh