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What You Can Learn from Adele About Authentic Leadership

Feb 12, 2017

A universal human fear is embarrassing yourself in front of others. Most people would rather disappear into the woodwork than turn in a less-than-stellar performance in front of peers--let alone on live television, and in a room full of living legends.  

Adele showed a special kind courage--and humility-- to call herself out publicly for a disappointing performance at the 2017 Grammys and start over.  She knew she was capable of better while singing a tribute to George Michael, and it meant a lot to her to do her best, so she stopped and started again. 

She was still shaken when later, she went on to win the major awards of the evening, including Best Album, Best Record, and Song of the Year. 

How many leaders would have the courage to do what she did?  

When someone as accomplished as Adele can show her humanity with all its flaws, that helps to chip away at the facade of perfection. It makes room for the rest of us to maintain really high standards, and acknowledge when we screw up--but then get on with the work that needs to be done. 

 Most of us take ourselves and our work too seriously. As a wise mentor once told me, "Things are seldom as awful, or as wonderful, as they first seem." 

That really help me to put things into their proper perspective over the years, and I share that advice often with the leaders I have the honor of working with. 

What matters most is not whether you make a big embarrassing mistake, or that you win impressive accolades. What matters most is that you can look yourself in the mirror, be true to yourself and the mission you're working to accomplish, and have the courage to admit you made a mistake. Then go do better.


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