To clarify before you judge me, I am not a fan. I am a 43-year old male who just happened to be in Las Vegas last week, and yes, I attended the Britney Spears concert at Planet Hollywood.
I did not go alone. I attended with Sarah, our Marketing Communications Manager for YO! and Left of the Dot, with whom I was attending a marketing conference. It was kind of a ‘school-is-out-lets-celebrate’ kind of event, and Sarah (unlike me), is female, younger, and way more willing and eager to take in Britney’s Piece of Me tour.
But I did find the show enlightening, so much so that I rewrote and delayed last week’s blog post by a few days while I contemplated what I had witnessed and contrasted it with that which I had already had put on paper.
You see, I had a rather poignant piece written about the role of leadership in today’s high-tech startup, inspired by a trip to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) the week prior. I know what you are thinking: contrasting the symphony to a Britney Spears show, you can’t really find more juxtaposition. And to further clarify, I am not saying that I am an orchestral music snob. In fact, I had not been to a performance in 20 years, but I had the opportunity and play the part of parent chaperone for my sons’ field trip, and thus I found myself being ‘cultured’.
I have been informed by those more attuned with the fine art of orchestral music that the Conductor really is important and it just wouldn’t be the same without him. I countered that argument if he were that important, why doesn’t every rock band have a conductor? I know, not a very good argument, but it was all that I had.
This event did inspire me, and I had intended to write about the multitude of leadership styles that I had seen that day, starting with:

The Conductor: He who gesticulates with a baton, commanding the attention of the entire audience… though it appears as though not a single member of the orchestra so much as looks at him. He is the one who gets the glory, however. He is the one who takes the bow. He is the headliner. He is the one standing on a podium with his back to his customers. Nothing starts or happens until he is ready and takes the stage.

You see, I wasn’t very impressed by this particular leadership style. It is way too out in front for my taste, hogging the glory rather than pushing the orchestral members to the front. I had contrasted this with the First Chair violinist, and the percussion section and their jobs as rhythm keepers.
But then I saw Britney and most of that post was put out with the trash. And thus, I present to you instead, the 6 leadership lessons I learned from watching Britney Spears.

  1. Take joy in your team’s passions
  2. Give the audience what they want
  3. The best leaders inspire others to do their best work by leading by example
  4. The best way to spot a good leader is to watch a great team.
  5. A leader needs to be powerfully persistent and not worry about the knocks and doubters
  6. A leader steps outside of his or her comfort zone and risks ridicule

While I believe people should always play to their strengths, a true leader should not be afraid to step outside of what is comfortable with their everyday to experience something new and unexpected. Not only can a leader see an alternative perspective when they do this, but this allows one to better communicate your own wants, needs, and viewpoint. By stepping outside your comfort zone and being open to new experiences, you may find a better way of doing things.
I think this last lesson in leadership may have been the most interesting for me. Yes, my wife teased me about it when I returned home, and so did our other teammates, but this is but a little ridicule. I can take it, because inside I am like:

Are you kidding me?
No wonder there’s panic in this industry
I mean please…
Do you want a piece of me?

Now that is poetry, Britney. Pure poetry.