Great Stories, Leadership

Who’s “The Boss”?

I’m a strong advocate of team leadership. Reality is too complex, and the challenges are too great for Lone Rangers to effectively lead an organization to significant impact over time. That said, team has its limitations.

I’ve been a Bruce Springsteen fan for about 30 years and I’m enjoying his just released autobiography Born To Run. In it he repeatedly describes his role and approach in leading the E Street Band to one of the longest and most successful dynasties in rock history.

“In the beginning I knew I wanted something more than a solo act and less than a one-man-one-vote democratic band. I’d been there before and it didn’t fit me. Democracy in rock bands, with very few exceptions, is often a ticking time bomb. The examples are many, beginning and ending with the Beatles. Still, I wanted good musicians, friends and personalities I could bounce off of. I wanted the neighborhood, the block. That’s where all the great rock bands come from and there’s something about that common blood or even just the image, the dream of it, that stirs emotion and camaraderie among your audience.”
In other chapters he writes of the importance of having the final say on all matters. “The Boss” is more than just one of the all-time great nicknames, it is an essential part of his identity as a musician and performer.

I’m not convinced that Springsteen’s is the only viable model of leadership in a rock band, or a charity, or any other endeavour. But I have seen enough examples of organizations committed to team leadership lacking the clear authority or gumption to make tough decisions that I know someone has to be willing and responsible to make the call.

The book reveals how determined Bruce has been to become the greatest rock star in the world. Whether he’s achieved that may be debatable, but he’s certainly on the list.

If you or your organization want to leave your own mark in whatever field you choose, you have to know who is taking responsibility for getting there.

It also helps if you can write great songs… https://youtu.be/IxuThNgl3YA

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