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What We Can Learn About Leadership From Taylor Swift

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For Christmas last year, my daughter, Dara, and her boyfriend, Mike, gave our family tickets to the Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour concert in Washington D.C. I am not a Taylor Swift fan by any stretch of the imagination; but I sensed immediately upon receiving these tickets that this concert was both a gift and an opportunity for our entire family to be together. As I said, going into the concert, I was not necessarily a fan; but I have to admit, that all of that has changed – not because I think any more of her musical talent, but because I was struck immediately by this young artist’s natural ability to lead. In the two hours we spent with Taylor, I saw boldness, fearlessness, and authenticity; I saw a young woman practicing principles of leadership and with a personal power to live that leadership for one of the largest generations our country has ever seen. Agility And Authenticity Taylor started this D.C. show 45 minutes early due to weather forecasts. Not wanting to short-change her fans, she made an executive decision to change the start time. This lesson is two-fold: This decision not only shows her and her team’s commitment to the fans, but on top of it being a lesson in real-time agility and what it means to lead authentically. It was clear immediately that she runs the show, and she’s in charge of her concert, her brand, her life. Things don’t happen to her; the looming weather wasn’t going to happen to her; she managed it. How often as leaders are you paying attention to all of the forecasts in your world and willing to make bold executive decisions different from the original plan, as to make the most of your opportunities based on a new forecast? How often do you manage situations versus feeling you are being managed by situations? “Hi everyone; I’m Taylor”: Connect Immediately; Connect Consistently Despite the fact that there were 45,000 people in the stadium, Taylor found an innovative way to connect with each person in the audience before the show even began. She did something different that allowed her to see the light in each audience member – literally and figuratively. Upon entry, each member of the audience received a wristband that looked very similar to a FitBit. When she came out on stage, she opened with a simple line: “Hi everyone; I’m Taylor” almost opening the concert like a conversation, meeting a new friend, introducing yourself for the very first time. Then, throughout the concert, those wristbands lit up in different colors at different times. Not only did it help her to see all of us, it helped us to see each other, regardless of where we were in the stadium – all a spirit she captured the moment she walked out on stage. Self-reflection And Mindfulness Leads To Courageous Leadership: Taylor Swift is no longer a country music singer. She is a powerhouse brand that provides broad musical entertainment and value. She reflects openly, daring to challenge herself and those around her. Her confidence, curiosity, and courage was palpable that I could picture her asking herself: “What next?”, “Why not?”, “How come”? She appears to make her choices consciously, and she takes responsibility for the choices she makes. She shows up consistently in alignment with her values. She trusts her voice. Her brand is clear. Her voice is clear. Her vision is clear. And all this is courageous leadership to me. What are you doing to incorporate reflection and mindfulness as daily practices? How are your decisions and actions aligned with your values? How clear and focused is your brand? When it comes to leadership, that was one impressive show with the power to transform not only the audience in the moment, but also a generation of followers.