Five Songs With Leadership Lessons

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Kevin Eikenberry Kevin Eikenberry

Music can make you cry, laugh, and dance. The right song can transport you to another place and time instantly. Songs can also inspire and inform us when we take the time to listen to the lyrics. That is my goal today – I’m taking five songs from my personal playlists that have leadership lessons in them. Whether you know them or not, like the genre or not, I hope that you will take a listen to these songs for leaders this week.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia 

Released by The Charlie Daniels Band in 1979, this is the most likely song you have heard. It tells the story of Johnny who is a fiddle player who makes a deal with the devil that he can outplay him. Along with some amazing fiddle playing, the song’s story reminds us of the importance of confidence, but more than that of being willing to stand for what we believe in.  Sometimes leaders must take a stand and make a bet on themselves and their teams in order to succeed at the highest levels.  Leaders must always remember they will sometimes need to make a bet on themselves, or their teams.

Roll On

The country band Alabama released this song in January 1984.  The story is that of a man who drives an over-the-road semitrailer truck to support his wife and three children.  In the song the father teaches his wife and children a song to sing while he is on the road driving (which is the chorus of the actual song).  This chorus is meant to keep them focused on his safety and return home.  He is in a major snowstorm, but on his return, he reminds them of the song to sing.  The leadership message is the power of a mantra to help people focus on important messages and important work. the best leaders know that creating common and repeatable message is a valuable way to build focus and create success.

I’m Gonna Be Somebody

Released by Travis Tritt in 1990, this song tells of a young man struggling to make it in the music business. The story points out the importance of self-belief and value of a positive self-image. Leaders know that self-image and self-confidence maters to them and to those they lead.  This song’s chorus serves as a personal anthem to self confidence.

Dream Big

Released by Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand in 2005, this is one of the most inspirational songs I know.  It points to the power of our goals and dreams, challenging us, “When you dream, dream big.” Leaders know the importance of goals and dreams.  Part of a leader’s job is to create a vision of the future that the team can strive for.  When we set a bigger vision it can be more inspirational and help the team move further than they thought they could.

Humble and Kind

Released by Tim McGraw in 2016, this song is less a story and more a list of the things to do to a live a more full and fulfilling life. While all of the list is worth considering, as a leader if you remember to “always be humble and kind”, you will likely lead more effectively.

I hope you had some fun with this list. I had fun creating it and could have had far more than five. I also hope you will put your suggestions in the comments – giving us all more songs for leaders.

To hear the songs, click on Kevin Eikenberry.

Kevin Eikenberry, Chief Potential Officer, The Kevin Eikenberry Group


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