How to be a Rock Star Leader

How to be a Rock Star Leader

The “War for Talent,” a term coined by Steve Hankin of McKinsey & Company in 1997, refers to an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining the best employees. With U.S. unemployment rates at the lowest levels since the late 1960’s, the drive to keep good employees on board and attract new ones has escalated into a full-scale assault. No wonder CEO’s ranked attracting and retaining talent as their top concern on The Conference Board’s C-Suite Challenge 2018. So how can businesses win the war for the best and brightest employees? Try Rock Star Leadership – literally.

Taking a page from Billboard’s Greatest All Time Hot 100 Artists List, business leaders can learn a lot from top entertainers about inspiration, transformation and teamwork. Check out these Five Rules of Rock Star Leadership to learn more:

1.      Inspire. Leaders need to communicate a compelling company vision to employees. When leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman asked more than 300,000 business leaders about the skills leaders need to succeed, the study found the ability to inspire and motivate others is the number one leadership skill. Stevie Wonder has been inspiring others for more than 50 years, bringing numerous people together to produce lasting social change. Back in the 1980’s, he helped organize other musicians to come together and sing with him on the charity singles “We Are the World” and “That’s What Friends For” for famine relief and AIDS awareness. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Wonder donated all of the proceeds from his “Shelter in the Rain” single to relief efforts. He raised awareness about AIDS and anti-apartheid efforts in ways that changed laws and beliefs, all while fundraising for blind and disabled children. In light of his numerous contributions to society, Wonder received the Nelson Mandela Courage Award in 1995 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a U.S. civilian.

2.      Practice recognition. Ever been to a concert where the performer thanks every band member, the crew and other key support for their great work? More than just the dramatic build-up before their finale, these moments are important in making their support teams feel appreciated. Thanking employees for their contributions and acknowledging specific accomplishments both privately and publicly is essential for retaining and engaging employees. Bersin by Deloitte has found that companies with a “recognition-rich culture” vastly outperform others. In particular, the top 20% of these organizations have a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate, which is a huge measure of performance.

3.      Embrace teamwork. Just as the most enduring entertainers know success is about more than the front man singing before an audience, Rock Star leaders embrace collaboration and teamwork to achieve strong results. Ensure different voices are heard during meetings rather than barking out orders. Invite new ideas and delegate responsibility to people at all levels of the organization. He’s not a Billboard performer, but I believe basketball superstar Michael Jordan best sums it up by saying, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

4.      Focus on transformation. Companies and entertainers need to constantly innovate to remain successful and relevant, which includes a willingness to leave your comfort zone. Like Madonna, the most successful female artist of all time. Selling over 300 million records worldwide, Forbes estimates she is worth $590 million. She has remained relevant for over three decades through constant musical reinvention, collaborating with artists ranging from Nicki Minaj to Justin Timberlake; an acting foray that culminated in a Golden Globe for Evita; numerous brand partnerships; and a fierce commitment to her charitable organization, Raising Malawi. Time Magazine even named her one of the 25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century.

5.      Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. Fans connect more deeply with artists who give back to the community. Taylor Swift is known for countless acts of generosity, from visiting sick children in hospitals to donating to fans GoFundMe pages after they experience a tragedy. When launching his new album in 2018, Grammy-winning artist Drake donated more than $200,000 worth of cash and gifts to Florida high schools, homeless shelters and more. Paul McCartney has supported organizations that, like him, want to make the world a better place: Live Aid, Make Poverty History, War Child, the Red Cross, the Paralympics and PETA top that list. Practiced by nearly 90% of Fortune 500 companies, Corporate Social Responsibility is the on-going commitment a business makes to contribute to the quality of life of its workforce, the community and society overall. It’s essential for an engaged workforce, especially with Horizon Media finding that 81% of millennials expect companies to publicly pledge to be good corporate citizens.

The war for talent might have gotten more intense than ever before. However, that’s a battle you can win by practicing Rock Star Leadership. Who do you consider to be a Rock Star Leader?

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