Leadership Rocks

Leadership Rocks!

I’d much prefer to be led by a leader who loves rock ‘n roll than one who doesn’t.  

A rock-lovin’ leader is likely to be full of passion and not emotionally flat-lined.

The rock-lovin’ leader is more likely to cherish independent thinking, and will be repulsed at the thought of smooching the tails of those higher up on the organizational food chain. And a rock-lovin’ leader will deeply “get” the connection between leaders and those he or she is privileged to lead.  Without a tight band and without screaming fans a lead singer is just a Karaoke crooner.

Rock-lovin’ leaders prefer to live out loud…at decibel 11 (made famous in the rock-mock-umentary, This is Spinal Tap). What follows are some high decibel leadership characteristics that we can adopt from real-life rock ‘n rollers…

Leadership Rocks

Rebellious Spirit

Rock-lovin’ leaders value mavericks who are willing to buck the system in order to improve performance.

They don’t want to be surrounded by milquetoast sycophants. They want people with fighting spirits and stiff backbones. The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again epitomizes this sort of rebellious nature. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”. And if you really want to turn up the volume, check out Alanis Morissette’s in-your-face anthem, You Ought to Know or Nirvana’s generation defining Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Fist-raising Tribe Builders

Rock-lovin’ leaders make people feel “chosen” – that they are part of a unique and special tribe.

Each tribe member feels like they are on the “inside” and that they are unified by common values. There are some great tribe-building bands out there, but the greatest of all-time was the Grateful Dead. Check out this version of West LA Fadeaway at 3 Rivers Stadium in 1995. (R.I.P Jerry!).

Indignant Optimism

Rock-lovin’ leaders shine the light on the brighter days ahead.

They help us see that goodness resides at the end of hardship, and that our best days are always in front of us. A good example is Bob Marley and his uplifting songs Three Little Birds (Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright) and Positive Vibration. Alicia Keys spread her optimism to suffering New Yorkers after hurricane Sandy with this version of No One (notice her deft use of cell phones!). Finally, Irish rockers, U2, frequently remind us that despite all our worries, today is a Beautiful Day.

 Psychedelic Social Consciousness

Few things are as powerful as a rock-lovin’ leader with a cause.

Neil Young is a rock god and has influenced everyone from Willie Nelson to Eddie Vedder to Kurt Cobain. In addition to being a co-founder of Farm Aid, Mr. Young and his wife Peggy started the Bridge School for severely disabled children. Each year top rock artists gather for the Bridge School Benefit concert to raise money for the school. Check out this rockn’ version of Rockin’ in the Free World. Notice how the disabled Americans get the best seats in the house…on stage with the rock legends.

Higher Calling Transcendence

The most noble aspect of rock-lovin’ leadership is when they help us rise above our petty human condition.

The greatest rock-lovin’ leaders appeal to our better angels. Again, U2, provide a great example with this tribal version of Elevation. Or this gospel-like version of U2’s One with Mary J. Blige. But the absolute pinnacle of rise-above-yourself transcendence belongs to John Lennon and Imagine. “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can…”

Brash Humility

One of the main reasons we rock out with rock-lovin’ leaders is because most came from humble origins just like us.

We love them most when we believe that, despite their lavish wealth, they know where they came from. Pete Townshend and The Who showed us how keenly aware of the illusions of fame with this confidently humble version of Eminence Front.

You can tell a lot about a leader by what’s on his or her radio dial…and how high that dial is turned up. The more of a rocker he or she is, the more likely they will be good at building a strong sense of community, fostering creative improvisation, and promoting independent thinking.

And the more they do that, the more you’ll raise your fist in the air and shake your head “yes!”


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Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer is Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, Inc.
He serves his clients with courage-building resources that reach the bottom-line
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Image Sources: Image Sources: muralesyvinilos.com, studentleadership.net


L2L Contributing Author


  1. Bob Brescia on August 23, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Bill, you rock!

  2. Doug Ramsey on August 27, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Bill, Great post. Thank you for the learnings. I agree that music loving leaders have transcended the inflated ego, celebrity and excesses of the music world. They have entered into a spiritual relationship with life through their music. They have expanded their worldviews using the wisdom of poetry and the rhythms and beats of the musical craftsman that resonate within them to reach a higher level of awareness, grace and gratitude.

    While my taste don’t align with yours in every case after many years in company building and consulting, I can attest to the positive, energetic and passionate difference that I find in leaders who are spiritually transformed by music. And, who allow this higher state of being to manifest in their leadership style, their commitment to expanding awareness and making a difference with the songs that are an integral part of who they are, what really matters and what they should be doing with their lives. Rock on, my friend…