It’s been said that the most important ingredient of a great leader is courage because everything else flows from that.
A grand case in point is Madonna and the courage it took to build herself into a “one-of-a-kind” legendary entertainment leader. (Forbes reports her 2018 net worth at $590 million.) She recently turned 60 on August 16.
While her style is admittedly edgy and, and not for everyone, her courage to be herself and blaze her own trail is undeniable.
Consider these “Madonna” leadership lessons:
Madonna lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 4. Wikipedia quotes her as saying: “The anguish of losing my mom left me with a certain kind of loneliness and an incredible longing for something. If I hadn’t had that emptiness, I wouldn’t have been so driven. Her death had a lot to do with me saying—after I got over my heartache—I’m going to be really strong if I can’t have my mother. I’m going to take care of myself.”
Madonna showed early signs of self-discipline. She was a straight-A student and a member of her high school’s cheerleading squad. After graduating, she received a dance scholarship to the University Of Michigan School Of Music, Theatre & Dance.
In 1978, Madonna dropped out of college and relocated to New York City. “When I came to New York, it was the first time I’d ever taken a plane, it was the first time I’d ever gotten in a taxi cab, it was the first time for everything. And I came here not knowing anyone with thirty-five dollars in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. ….. I can’t believe how frightened I was when I look back at it, but I was.”
Bootstrap Your Startup
Using other people’s equipment, from midnight to eight in the morning, Madonna and her crew completed her first demo tape.
But she was very strategic about sharing it.
First she built rapport and earned the respect of a former talent scout for Island Records, Disc Jockey Mark Kamins. “I hung out for about a month at Danceteria before I got enough courage to tell him I had a tape for him to listen to. I didn’t want to sound like another girl with another tape.” It worked. Kamins used his connections to help Madonna win her first record contract. “I planned the whole thing,” she said.
Use Naysayers For Motivation
Naysayers and detractors were rocket fuel for Madonna.
In her riveting acceptance speech for Billboard’s Woman of The Year Award Madonna opened up about the hardest personal challenges of her career. “To the doubters and naysayers and everyone who gave me hell and said I could not, that I would not or I must not ,” she said, “Your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am today.”
Give A Voice To Others
In the same speech, Madonna reminded the audience about what life was like when she first moved to New York City. She said, “People were dying of AIDS everywhere. It wasn’t safe to be gay, it wasn’t cool to be associated with the gay community.”
Madonna has bravely challenged sexism and homophobia, using her fame and power to champion for gay rights and promote equality. She’s been there and knows of what she speaks.
In the spirit of giving voice to others, Madonna has embraced newcomers to the stage. When Britney Spears and Lady Gaga became stars, she appeared on stage with them at awards shows and on Saturday Night Live, thrilling her fans and introducing her to a younger audiences who can also appreciate her role in music history.
Things To Ponder
—It takes courage not to comply with the expectations and rules others have for us.
Consider a time you had to truly stand your ground. Were the consequences what you expected? Would you change anything?
Think of other leaders you admire. What penance have they paid for their actions? Do you think it’s worth it?
—As you rise, put a hand out for others and help them. Chances are you’ll find it very fulfilling and it makes for good Karma.
Read more at Forbes.com