One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.
I have a good bit of history as a musician. I started out in a successful band in high school. We had an album and were on the radio before I graduated and were often on the road touring when we weren’t in school. In college, I went on to minor in jazz bass and wrote curriculum that was used in songwriting classes. I still play music to this day. (I’m actually in the middle of writing remixes of the PTB theme song as I write this piece.) I’ve learned many things about leadership during my time as a musician. Here are a few things that we can model in leadership from good musicians.
Good musicians are team players.
I’ve been blessed to play with some phenomenal musicians over the years. I’ve also played with many really bad musicians. I don’t call them bad because of their experience or playing level, they were bad because they were not team players. They were bossy or only thought of themselves instead of the group, didn’t put in the time like the rest of the group or had no self-awareness. Good musicians often enjoy playing more with others that are less skilled but are great team players, than with talented players that think only of themselves. Likewise, talented people will often enjoy working with someone with little to no experience than the know-it-all in the same department. Do you know someone that no one likes to play or work with? They likely have some of these same traits. Build yourself self-awareness and ensure that you are a good team player.
My favorite drummers to play with are the ones that listen and are willing to change what they had written so that we can match up better. I’ll often do the same and we will meet somewhere in the middle. When that happens, the drummer or I will often get compliments on our playing. The secret is it’s not just me or him, it’s when we are working as one that makes the other sound better. Compliment the traits of your teammates so that they look better than they really are. If they are a good teammate they will do the same for you.
Good musicians know their roles.
Good musicians know their roles well. They know when to stand out and when to let someone shine. They aren’t overbearing and they don’t try to be something that they are not.
Know your role on the team that you are on. Avoid trying to take from the contributions and opportunities of others. It may come from a place where you feel like you can do it better/faster but you damage the trust and confidence of those around you in the process. Give others a chance to shine in their job even if they aren’t as experienced. It may be scary for them (and you!) at first but it will make them stronger in the process.
The greatest musician I’ve ever played with.
I’ve played and shared a stage with several “famous” people during my time of playing music. The one I admire most and am the most honored to play with is actually just a normal guy that is not known at the national level.
I actually think of Jason as more of a leader than a musician. He has the rare trait of seeing the bigger picture of the music and is extremely detailed oriented when it comes to the most important piece of music; his musicians. Jason makes it a point to learn about each person’s family, what their hobbies are and what interests them. He’ll take them out to lunch occasionally and almost always will send them a text thanking them for playing with him after the show. It’s that level of detail in his personal leadership that has made him a highly desirable person to play with. I was so drawn to Jason’s leadership that I gave up a paying job to volunteer my service for him.
Wouldn’t you want to work for someone who put that amount of detail in getting to know you and invest in you on a personal level? You don’t have to “make it” to be a great leader. You can be a great leader right where you are. Give them the level of care and attention that you desire to have and watch your team quickly rally around you.
Make a better tomorrow.