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Five Leadership Lessons From The Beatles

Five Leadership Lessons From The Beatles

Award-Winning Entrepreneur and Creativity Expert Josh Linkner is on a mission to make the world more creative. Named the “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a “President Barack Obama Champion of Change” award recipient, Josh both inspires and entertains: in speeches and workshops alike, he provides powerful and practical techniques to jump-start creativity, getting people thinking out of the box in business and at home. Here, Josh shares leadership lessons learned from the fab four themselves–The Beatles:

Inspiration comes in unlikely place. For some, nature is a source of ideation. For others, family and friends can give a twist of insight that you never thought through, for something unrelated to your actual discussion. For me, I constantly find nuggets of wisdom in music – sometimes in lyrics, sometimes in a pattern, and sometimes just in the way an artist or band goes about their day. Maybe it’s that I’m a jazz musician by training. Maybe it’s just that I’m in the car so often and listen to a lot of music. Today’s spigot comes from one of the greatest bands of all time: The Beatles. They are one of the most revered bands to ever play music, and they forever changed the landscape of rock and roll. Not too shabby for four guys from Liverpool. So what can we learn from them about business?

Push the boundaries. John, Paul, George, and Ringo completely shattered previous convention. Their sound was different from anything that preceded them. This is important because they shifted the landscape as they came on the scene, but even more so, always reinvented theirown sound. When they burst on the scene, their pop sound was upbeat and had an even tempo – songs like Twist and Shout had a generation of teeny-boppers screaming for more. As they continued to create music, they constantly evolved, moving on to a much more complex and innovative sound.

Show up fully. No matter what they were asked, The Beatles never half-assed it. Regardless, the foursome always delivered on the promise 100%. Do you do this with every client? How about every employee’s request for development and growth? Have you given your all in every media appearance? If not, you’re missing an opportunity for success – take a lesson from this group and get your game face on.

Surround yourself with great people. The Beatles were insanely talented, but their success wasn’t earned solo. They had a prolific record producer in George Martin, and they had the biggest media ambassador on earth in Ed Sullivan. While recognizing their own strengths, they also knew their own weaknesses. To solve for those, they leveraged the strength of others – and that leverage paid off, in full. Are you surrounded by “A” players, or is your network full of B-listers? If your community is full of the best, you’re on track to be in that pack too.

Build and nurture a fan base. Screaming girls. Adoration from worldwide. Frenzied fans. There wasn’t anything like it in history. The Beatles realized they were always on stage, and they recognized the importance of this. As such, they were always effective in building their brand. Do you view yourself as always “auditioning”? If not, you should be. Every time you come in contact with someone, they could be a customer, advisor, mentor, or advocate for you. Are you nurturing that interaction? Does your product create a “screaming teenage girl” frenzy like they did? How could you improve it to get it to that point of WOW?

Keep it simple. Above all else, they used their creativity to make music that was accessible. Their instrumental gifts could have produced far more complicated songs with more technical riffs, but instead, they knew their music was for the masses – and as such, they created their music for that audience. They communicated with crystal clarity. And in turn, people loved their music, the world over. In 10 seconds, could you tell me what your company does? Would I understand it right away? If not, start over.

Remember these tips from The Fab Four and you’re on your way to improving your company’s presence. Let them “whisper words of wisdom,” and you’ll be amazed at the dramatic improvement.

By Josh Linkner/Forbes/June, 2014