Lady Gaga Walks The Walk
I can’t wait for Lady Gaga’s half time show of the Super Bowl Fifty One tonight. Most of you know I am a huge Lady Gaga fan. This fandom started back in 2010 when I had the opportunity to see her in concert in Portland, Oregon. I was in Portland for a conference and sat down at a table for a dinner with six women who I did not know. They apologized that they would be leaving the dinner before it was over because they were going to see Lady Gaga. I probably said something super intelligent like, “Awesome, wish I was going so I didn’t have to sit through this dinner” (sounds like me doesn’t it?). Then one of the women said, “Hey we are going with a group of college sorority sister friends and one can’t go now at the last minute. Would you want to go?” Now, anyone reading this that knows me knows that I’m not turning down an adventure, no matter what it is. I was in! The rest is history, I have been a Lady Gaga fan ever since.
Now I know Lady Gaga causes controversy, her music might not be your cup of tea, but it is certain that you will be familiar with the girl from the Lower East Side of New York who in a few short years transformed herself from Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta into one of the world’s best-known musical performers. This post is about Lady Gaga – leader that walks the walk.
“When I wake up in the morning, I feel like any other insecure 24-year old girl. Then I say, “Bitch, your Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.” ~ Lady Gaga, Rolling Stone Interview June, 2010.
I love the fact that Lady Gaga walks the walk. There are many leadership lessons we can learn from her. When it comes to authentic leadership, Bill George identifies five dimensions and their respective characteristics that someone must develop in order to be an authentic leader (George, 2003). The five qualities authentic leaders demonstrate are:
- Understanding their purpose
- Practicing solid values
- Leading with heart
- Establishing connected relationships
- Demonstrating self-discipline
Lady Gaga has been referred to as the queen of the outcasts because of her support of individuals who ride the boarder of social outcasts and underdogs. As everyone knows, Lady Gaga is far from what most people call “normal” and as a result suffered much bullying growing up. Propelled by her own experiences, Lady Gaga made it her purpose to help others rejoice in their individuality and not feel like outcast. In just this alone you can see the five qualities of authentic leaders being displayed.
Actually there have been many case studies done on Lady Gaga as a leader, including ones done by the Harvard Business School. Additionally, a case study done by Jamie Anderson and Jörg Reckhenrich of Antwerp Management School and Martin Kupp of ESMT European School of Management and Technology dives into the idea of leadership projection. The concept of leadership projection is an integrative approach of communication, behavior and aspiration that provide a leader with wide recognition across an industry or sphere of public life – in the case of Lady Gaga, social change. An important element of leadership projection is the ability of an individual to project herself into a future role that is much more influential than the current state – again, this describes Lady Gaga perfectly. Leadership projection is very much about followership; after all, a true leader only exists if he or she can excite loyalty in others. It involves a communication approach that typically integrates three universal story lines to excite and gain buy-in from followers:
- Who am I – how life experience has shaped my individuality and character
- Who are we – demonstrates and guides the values and behaviours of a group
- Where are we going – explains what is new, and creates a sense of excitement about direction.
Because of Lady Gaga’s display of the five dimensions of authentic leadership (George, 2003), walking the walk of the three principles of leadership projection, and the number of lives she has changed because of her efforts, it is safe to say that Lady Gaga displays the characteristics of what I consider to be a true leader. I cannot wait to watch her half-time show of the Super Bowl later this evening.
George, B. (2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. Jossey-Bass.