3 More Beatles Songs Every Leader Should Know

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A few weeks ago I wrote an article called 3 Beatles Songs Every Leader Should Know. My premise was that in the Beatles’ 200+ oeuvre, there are a number of songs that, by their title alone, could give a successful business leader plenty of food for thought. Today we’re going to look at three more:

Tomorrow Never Knows (from the Revolver album, 1966): We can study trends, we can examine the prognostications of futurists, we can even read tea leaves. Some of these might actually give us a sense of the long-term picture. But the bottom line is: we really don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. We make our plans, and then we wake up to find that the CEO has been hospitalized with a stroke, or our most valuable team member has been hired by the competition, or our bank has gone belly-up. It could even be the little things: today I woke up to find that my wireless broadband system was dead. So there went the morning. (After four hours of re-configuring, re-booting, and re-pressing the urge to hurl my computer out the window, all is now well, thank you.) The point is, we really don’t know what might happen that might send a large or small part of our world drastically off course. Because of this, a smart leader is always playing “What if?” “What if we have to recall one of our products?” “What if my sales manager quits?” “What if my competitor puts out a better/cheaper/faster version of our product?” And, conversely, “What if one of my team members comes to work tomorrow with a truly game-changing idea?” “What if I meet somebody at a networking event who would be a perfect addition to the team?” “What if my competitor declares bankruptcy?”

It’s true that even the best leader can’t anticipate every possibility. But by continually playing “What if?,” we can train our brains to be agile and quick, so that we can react swiftly no matter what tomorrow brings.

With a Little Help From My Friends (from the Sgt. Pepper album, 1967): Okay, this one’s pretty obvious, and we don’t need to belabor it. Not only does a good leader rely on his or her team (and also share the credit with them for any successes!), but he or she also has an extensive and diverse database of contacts, and is not too proud to use them. The good leader doesn’t let ego get in the way of the big picture. If the situation calls for an accountant, a beekeeper, or a Renaissance historian, the good leader will say, “You know, I don’t have the expertise for this situation. Let’s bring in somebody who does.” In short, the good leader never hesitates to ask for help when help is needed.

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (from the Abbey Road album, 1969): No, I’m not suggesting that the good leader is a stalker who breaks into the competition’s house in the dead of night. The reason for this title is that it reminds us that ideas and answers can come to us in unexpected ways. In his brilliant book on innovation, The Medici Effect, Frans Johansson cites the following example:

In the early 1990s Eric Bonabeau, an R&D engineer at France Telecom, and Guy Theraulaz, an ecologist studying social insects, met at a seminar held by the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. They talked about, among other things, how ants find food. Ten years later the techniques that were developed based on this conversation are helping petrol truck drivers plan their routes through the Swiss Alps.

Johansson goes on to explain the connection, and it’s fascinating, but the point here is that that chance meeting, and that chance conversation, led to a solution that is saving one industry hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That’s why it’s so important to have a wide-ranging network of friends, colleagues, and associates. Social networking sites like LinkedIn are a great resource, of course, but nothing can match the random ideas that can occur in a face-to-face conversation. The key, when you’re having one of these conversations, is to be open to the possibility of a great idea. That’s why great leaders tend to be curious about the world. They seem to be interested in everything. And the more varied your interests—the more diverse people you know and the more diverse books you read—the more likely you are to see connections that others miss. As I say to my audiences, “You never know where the great ideas are going to come from!” They may even sneak in through the bathroom window!


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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