I’m not particularly “cool.” And, when I say not particularly, I mean not at all. Hence, I was probably one of the few people not very familiar with singer/songwriter/entrepreneur/humanitarian…and leader, Sarah McLachlan.
Yes, of course I’d heard of Lilith Fair. However, I didn’t know anything more about it than that it was a massively-successful, all-women musical tour. (Refer back to first sentence.)
In 1997 Sarah founded Lilith Fair in response to the sexist world of radio and concert promotion that would not feature two female artists in a row. Why not, I don’t know. But in our often strange world it takes a pioneer; a leader to break through and set things right.
First, she booked a successful tour with fellow singer/songwriter, Paula Cole. Then, she launched Lilith Fair which turned out to be hugely successful both creatively and financially.
The vision and the guts to lead the field into unchartered territory, directly bucking the establishment is a great example of leadership right there…but let’s look at something else.
Stumbling upon the below video during a YouTube musical journey, I came to understand her magic and why she is so loved by everyone.
Take a look at this video from one of the latter Lilith Fair performances; this in 2010. She has just called the participants from that evening’s event to join her onstage. Based on many of the posts and interviews we’ve featured on this blog, what do you notice as some of her impressive leadership qualities?
Here’s what I saw:
- It wasn’t about her. Yes, she was the promoter. Yet, like the great leaders we study, she took the spotlight off of herself and placed it upon the others.
- They felt welcome. Sarah greeted everyone as though they were the most important person in the world to her. She most likely created that environment from the very beginning of her communication with them.
- She made the little girl feel special. My apologies; I don’t know who the adorable little girl onstage is or the context for her being there. However, I can only imagine that being onstage in front of all those people and with those luminaries — at that age — could be a bit intimidating. However, Sarah danced and sang with her, allowing her to feel totally comfortable.
- Acknowledgement of the audience. When she thanked the audience and advised them to drive home carefully…I got the feeling she really did care.
- Inclusivity. Perhaps more than anything else what came through for me was the energy of inclusivity that she inspired.
These five points alone can increase the effectiveness of any team or business, large or small.
So, Sarah has definitely joined my list of leadership heroes. What lessons have you taken from our brief look at this musical icon?
And, is there someone you know (or know of) who has done something similar within their own field of expertise?