As I prepare to go and see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway I thought I should update my LinkedIn blog from 2015 asking how he has continued to develop his career over the last 50+ years. There is talent on every street corner and hundreds of musicians yet only a tiny percentage make it and even fewer can sustain it. So, what, if anything, can we learn about leadership and success from The Boss?
He clearly has great charisma but what else?
He works hard, very hard, he is incredibly focussed and driven.
He loves what he does.
He seeks inspiration from films, books, politics, world events and the stories and struggles of ordinary and great people.
He learns from others and acknowledges their influence and inspiration in his work.
He collaborates with a broad cross-section of people. “The narrative you tell together is bigger than anyone you could have told on your own.” on inducting the E Street Band into The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
He surrounds himself with an excellent team from the amazing E Street Band, through to his management and crew.
He is willing to take risks, make mistakes and wants to keep his work fresh and vital.
He has integrity and doesn’t mind challenging or upsetting people or some of his fans e.g. American Skin (41 Shots) or supporting Obama’s presidential campaigns. His cancellation of a gig on his River tour in Greensboro , North Carolina over HB2 in support of the LGBTQ+ rights even made the headlines on the BBC.
He plays for the people in the back row at the top of a stadium, not just his hardcore fans in the pit – he seeks full engagement. In recent years he has won new fans by playing festivals around the world.
He has a set list and a plan but will rip it up, ignore it and trust his intuition, challenging his band mates, keeping them on their toes and the crowd guessing.
He is not afraid to confront difficult issues and to engage with painful emotions.
He acknowledges his weaknesses his struggles with mental health – he accepts help.
He understands about the power of community and family and our need to connect.
He can laugh at himself and laugh with others.
He is a story teller, poet and also paints pictures with music.
I saw him by chance in 2003 and have been hooked ever since going to gigs across Europe once in New Jersey. I have spent many hours and even a night queuing with and meeting some really lovely members of the E Street community. Many, many more stories to tell but here’s a link to just one:https://asktim.org/2013/09/sing-to-71000/
We can learn a great deal and be inspired by a “three minute record” and the transformative power of rock’n’roll!
PS The Guardian “A Springsteen show makes you feel the best version of yourself”: https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2016/jun/10/bruce-springsteen-makes-you-feel-alive-wembley-stadium?CMP=share_btn_tw
Update September 2016 Review of his Born to Run – autobiography: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/21/born-to-run-by-bruce-springsteen-review
Philly.com 10 Business Tips from Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography 14 July 2017 here