I can’t believe what I am about to admit to. I’m going to confess to something and then place it on the internet for all to see. My confession is probably going to cause some of you to question my hipness and to question the influence of pop culture on my taste. Well, here it is. I have been a long time fan of American Idol and I think this year is the best season ever.
Wow, what a relief it is to get that behind me. After all these years of listening to people talk about the show and not interjecting my opinion I can now join in the discussion and speak my mind.
Although the preceding few paragraphs where written in jest I do admit to being a fan of the show. I have always found it fascinating to see people get a shot at being heard when there are so few doors for talent to be recognized available these days.
This season has been particularly interesting. With the departure of most of the judges and its major star, Simon Cowell, most assumed that the show would die. Yet it is staging a remarkable resurgence in popularity and relevance. I believe there are several interesting factors for this that can be beneficial to anyone in any sort of leadership position.
The first thing I have noticed is the tone of the program has become much gentler. Instead of the snarky comments in which performers are ripped to shreds, even negative feedback has come with kindness.
This has led me to wonder. What purpose is served in building someone up and saying he or she is one of the top 12 most talented people in a competition then weekly humiliating him for his effort? Certainly people will have good days and bad days but when we as leaders raise people up then do everything to shine the bright light on their flaws, in time the followers becomes consumed with their flaws. This flawed side becomes the only side they will ever be able to show.
Criticism is part of growth but leaders need to offer it with hope. Demeaning people and their potential for growth, especially when you gave them the platform on which to perform, will bring your judgment into question. If you really thought the person was that bad then why did you give them this shot? The eventual winner of many American Idols have not done well after the show because I think the winner has become the person doing his or her best not to be criticized instead of pushing the envelope. Building a person to help them reach their potential takes nurturing, not abandoning them when they dare to step out and give their best only to come up short.
The nurturing aspect of this year’s season has also been interesting to watch. For the first time the contestants are not being paired with celebrity judges with products to hawk but with producers. These are people who have actually taken an artist into a studio and produced a recording that others wanted to listen to. This change seems so logical that I wonder why it has been so long in coming.
It is my belief that no one, no matter how talented, can reach his or her maximum potential without help. I look back on how many of the performers over the years were verbally destroyed yet were never given the resource of working with someone who knew what they were doing.
The greatest gift a leader can give someone is the knowledge they need to succeed. Unfortunately many leaders feel that if the instruction doesn’t come through them then they are not building loyal followers. This is a short sighted view that will in time cause a breakdown in relationship and then leave the follower either emotionally broken or forced to leave and look for proper nurturing.
It is a sign of strength in a leader to release those entrusted to his leadership to others who have the skills and knowledge to help maximize their potential. Watching someone bloom into the person you imagined when you first encountered his potential is one of leadership’s most rewarding gifts. This starts to happen when the leader realizes that if you want the best you have to bring in the best. You don’t look foolish for exposing your people to people with skills beyond your own. You look foolish when you try to teach something that you don’t know.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into all of this. It isn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last. That being said, I think that maybe I’m seeing something I need to implement into my own leadership arsenal. Each person who looks to me for guidance is an investment worth protecting and nurturing and I have to constantly evaluate my effectiveness in this. We all need a reboot now and then.
BTW while I’m at it could you move? ….the next singer is about to go on.