4 Things a U2 Concert Taught Me About Leadership

Many think people are born leaders. I disagree. Leaders learn from the best and apply it in their own way. Often times, this means looking beyond your own industry for inspiration. It goes without saying that I am not a rock star. So imagine my surprise when last month’s U2 concert ended up making a lasting impression. As Maria Shriver (also in attendance) received a shout out from U2 on stage, I began to marvel at – and learn from – the leadership surrounding me. My four takeaway tips included:

Use Your Voice: Bono may be the lead singer of a band, but he is using his voice for much more than singing. His dedication to raising sociopolitical awareness and supporting philanthropic causes is perhaps his biggest legacy. What do you stand for? Bring your personality and humanity to your leadership and inspire those around you beyond the day-to-day. Being great at what you do is always admirable, but to encourage change in people’s thoughts and actions, you must be a living, breathing example of what you stand for.

Have a consistent message: If you know what you stand for, be known for it. A band may change its tune, incorporating different instruments or switching up vocalists. But its ‘sound’ is what it’s known for. Whether you are speaking on your own behalf or delivering the message of a company, focus on the core mission. The consistency of that message will lead people where you want them to go, and not merely because of repetition. Over time, consistency empowers others to understand your decision-making process and better align their actions with your vision.

Pick the right team: As a band that has been playing together for 35 years and is still selling out stadiums worldwide, U2 seems to have put the right members of the team together. Focus on finding individuals who have a passion for what they do and the personality to fit with the culture of the group. Then focus on skill set. In 1976, was The Edge the brilliant guitarist he is today? Skill sets are important, but needs change as industries evolve. Work with people who are willing to see change as a growth opportunity that will enable them to continue to serve their passion.

Put on a good show: The anticipation of seeing U2 perform live builds from the moment you learn they are coming to your city and continues until you hear the last note played. While your weekly meetings may not resemble a rock concert, you can still use what you have to give people the best version of you. If you’ve been consistent with your message and chosen a team that is passionate about your mission and vision, they are primed to follow your lead. Build from that platform. Reach every person in the room the same way that Bono connects with those who are in the last row of a stadium. Your passion can be infectious and motivate people through even the toughest obstacles. Bring energy and intention to your interactions and leave them wanting more.

I may never be Bono, but watching him perform certainly inspired me to think about leadership from a new perspective. The band members’ talents as musicians earned them a following. But it’s their actions as people of conviction that make them leaders that inspire millions.

About the Author

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Jenni Luke is chief executive officer of Step Up Women's Network, a nonprofit, professional membership organization based in Los Angeles. In this role, she leads one
of the most sought-after women's groups in the country in its second decade of service.

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