Own Your Own Fear: Leadership Development – Part Two

Welcome to part two of our series on owning your own fear. This time we are looking at leadership development and my background as a rock promoter I believe gives me unique insight into this area.

Leadership is not just about evolution but also about revolution. So many leaders that I know are steeped in the textbook leadership styles.

What makes a leader? Is it someone who is great with people? Is it someone who commands others? Is it someone who asks others to help create a vision? Or is it just simply someone with drive who can influence others?

We spend our time looking at books that tell us that there are six leadership styles and that we fall into a predominant category and that we shift from one to another during the day, week or year.

However, what I have come to realise over the years is that leadership is like colours with millions of shades, which morph from one micro style to another as we develop and change.

When I worked in the music industry as a promoter and venue manager I was very often on the back foot as what the artist, tour manager, and agent said went and any questions meant that the event did not go so well. But sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and your team to show that, sometimes, common sense and common decency should be the norm rather than something that is a bit of an anomaly.

I was promoting a major band in my venue and working with my team of production, security and crew was often quite a challenge, as I had to ask them to do many dirty jobs for not much money. I relied on them totally to ensure that the gig went well.

The tour manager was in the venue and asked me if we would hang a series of long black curtains from the back wall as the sound was reflecting off the wall and causing a poor sound quality. I agree to do this and my team hung the curtains up using an electric hoist which took 90 minutes.

The tour manager then said that he wanted them taken down as the sound was worse with them like that. I asked the team again to do this and after a lot of grumbling they agreed and 90 minutes later the wall was bare.

The tour manager after another 30 minutes came over and said that the curtains were to go back up again. I turned and looked at my team who were all looking at me and shaking their heads. I thought I have to make a decision here that will lift my team and show that we are not going to be trampled over.

I turned to the tour manager and said, “Sorry, I can’t put the curtains up again as it is taking my team away from their core role of preparing the production and staging for tonight. If you want them up you will have to provide your own team to do it”.

This started a blazing row between the production manager, the tour manager and I where they threatened to pull the show. The team stood around in the venue waiting for the outcome.

I had had enough and my retort was, “If the show is to be cancelled, then so be it but I am not going to have my team messed around”.

The tour and production manager disappeared from the room for a conference and soon returned saying that they would use the sound desk to make the appropriate changes.

As I walked back through the venue to my office, the whole team stood up and clapped me out of the venue.

I have never forgotten this because on that day I realised that I was their leader and just standing up for them meant more than money can buy.

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