I admit I love U2 being preloaded on my iPhone and I tear up every time I hear “Love is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way”. I first saw U2 in 1987 when they played to a crowd of about 10,000 at the Assembly Hall in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. My husband and I also saw Bono, Larry, the Edge, and Adam jam together in Honolulu on our Baby-moon back in 2006, and again on our first date after our second son came home at Mile High in 2011.
If a rock band can stay together for close to 3 decades, AND have the ability to entertain a high school girl, a pregnant lady, and a couple on a date night, they have to be doing something right – and it is not just music. I may not be a rock star, but these singers from Dublin have taught me a few valuable leadership skills.
1) Treat everyone equally. According to those in the “know”, Adam, Larry, the Edge, and Bono all make the same amount of money. Yes, Bono is by and large a household name for U2 fans, and I have never been behind the scenes with my favorite rockstars, but Bono seems quite genuine when we tells the crowd he is in Larry Mullen Jr.’s band. If you want to build your own team of rock stars, everyone’s opinion and talents must be valued – both verbally and financially.
2) Show up and perform every time. Anyone who has been at a U2 concert knows they do not “phone it in”. These guys come and they work their butt off. Leaders cannot expect to last for 3 decades if they do not do the work, expect others to do it for them, or assume their hard work in the past will make up for slacking today.
3) Try new things, but if you do not succeed, stick to your strengths. Intentionally or not, I loved U2 in 87, I loved them in the 2000’s and I love them now. However, like many fans, Zooropa was, well just a little out there. I give U2 credit for trying something new, but their classics, new and old, are what make people get up, dance, scream, and buy tickets again and again. As a leader, there is no harm in pushing the envelope, but if your idea does not work, stick to what you are best at and what your customers love.
4) Have purpose and show it. It should be no surprise that U2, especially Bono, is passionate about the One campaign and Amnesty International. He is not just a rock star, he really does want to change the world (one person at a time). Whatever your passion and purpose, share it with everyone, show you care about something, and let your values guide every action you make.
Yes, U2 is a rock band. For some people that is all they need to be. As with everything in life, I always look for what I can learn from others, and since I cannot think of any other product or service I would pay 2x’s the value (or more) to see again and again over 3 decades, it is nice to know I can learn something about leadership from these singers from Ireland. Have a Beautiful Day!