Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Leadership a la Gaga

Now I have heard it all.

The Economist recently ran an article "The angel and the monster" that drew similarities and differences between Mother Theresa and Lady Gaga.

They went on to state that there are some leadership lessons to be gleaned from Lady Gaga's success. They boiled it down to the fact that she knows her brand and has found a compelling emotional connection point with her target.

Last time I checked, this has more to do with branding than in does leadership "projection" or charisma.

We obviously are struggling for direction in leadership these days, as a recent article in HBS "Why Leaders lose their way" reminds us of the many recent examples of fallen leaders:

-Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd resigned for submitting false expense reports concerning his relationship with a contractor.
-US Senator John Ensign (R-NV) resigned after covering up an extramarital affair with monetary payoffs.
-Lee B. Farkas, former chairman of giant mortgage lender Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, in April was found guilty for his role in one of the largest bank fraud schemes in American history

Not to mention Senator John Edwards.

Maybe they tried a little leadership a la Gaga!

All kidding aside, the lessons to be learned here from either Lady Gaga or Mother Theresa is one of conviction and passion. And more importantly having the courage and vulnerability to put it out there. They are so aligned with their passion, they epitomize "what you see see is what you get."

Yet, as we have seen with many of these fallen leaders, they are not who they say they are. They are cowards hiding behind false words. They are far from being vulnerable with their own convictions and passions.

When leaders have conviction and passion, others will follow. But don't waste your time emulating Lady Gaga, or trying to break down the elements of her unique "leadership projection." This is not something that can be copied.

Spend more time uncovering your own conviction and passion based on your own personal journey. Once you find it, then you have to have the courage and vulnerability to put it out there.

This kind of leadership is frightening and not for the faint-of-heart.

Whether you like Lady Gaga's aesthetic or not, what she does have is the ability to be vulnerable and courageous to put her passion and conviction on the line and that's what people connect to. There is no confusion about her message.

I respect that about her.

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