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U2 - Leadership Lessons from a Rock Band

There is nothing like a good rock concert to put the basics of leadership into perspective!   

U2, the world renowned rock band, performed in front of thousands of college students at New York's Fordham University and millions of viewers on Good Morning America on Friday morning, March 6, 2009.  Their performance was classic.  Their influence was profound.  And if you watched closely enough you may have realized that it took only a few moments and some very intentional actions to turn a screaming crowd of spectators into a quiet, focused mass of participants!

Bono, U2 lead singer, modeled for us seven basic leadership methods that can make a dramatic difference in how people participate or follow our lead.  He stepped to center stage, spoke just a few words as the music began and deliberately demonstrated what he expected from the audience.  The result was amazing. 

  • He spoke:  "I hope you like our new direction."
  • He lifted his hand high above his head and struck a confident pose.
  • He began to move his hand from right to left, slowly and in time with the music.
  • He told the crowd to follow his actions.
  • When everyone was moving in unison, he changed his open hand into the sign of peace.
  • Bono told the crowd to do the same.

They did!

And when the crowd was totally involved, the band delivered what everyone was expecting - a new song by Rock n Roll Superstars!  But they got more than what they expected; they were led into an experience that moved them from being simply individuals gathered in the quad at Fordham University into a community of like minded people hoping for the world to be a better place.

How did U2 get everyone together -- in rhythm with each other?  The seven basics of good leadership:

  1. Clearly state your direction and intentions.
  2. Confidently show others what you are expecting.
  3. Then, invite them to join you.
  4. Give them time to get in sync with the plan.
  5. Once they have the idea, show them the next part.
  6. Tell them how to do it with you.
  7. Deliver on what you promised!

If you are in a leadership role and trying to move a group of people from a chaotic collection of individuals into a cohesive team of people who might actually be able to make a significant difference in your workplace, community or the world, put these seven basic skills into practice!  Take center stage, be a person of fewer words, model what you expect, give them time to come together and your influence will be "rock-star" profound as you lead them to amazing results.

Check out the video at YouTube

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments.  -  Steven Iwersen


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