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ARTICLE: Bruce Springsteen, Artful Leadership, and What Rock Star Bosses Do

Updated: May 1


We often call bosses who fill up a room with big ego and even bigger heart, who voice hard truths alongside hope, who make us work harder yet feel lighter, “rock stars,” to underscore their popular appeal. Some companies have a few of them; others, a handful.


Among actual rock stars, however, there has long been only one Boss—Bruce Springsteen—and he is headed to Broadway this fall. His latest production, an intimate solo show, will combine readings from his recent autobiography, Born to Run, with a selection of songs. If it is anything like the book, the show will be a masterclass on management and leadership, but more lyrical than those featuring celebrity entrepreneurs, politicians, or generals.

Artists are managers and leaders, too. It takes good management to keep a band together and an act on the road. But this leadership is different from, and often at odds with, the leadership found at the top of corporations, countries, or armies. The work of art, as Springsteen puts it, is “natural subversion.” Establishment leaders might praise and pay for art, but they cannot control it. That is why an artist’s leadership is usually trustworthy: It either speaks to and for people, or it has no power at all. The Boss’s autobiography is a textbook on a virtue that the best managers have and the best leaders spread: resilient hope. The kind of hope borne of staring at the truth of loss and fear without losing faith through inevitable hardships. Read the full article from Harvard Business Review or download a printable PDF for takeaways on cultivating this type of leadership.


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© 2016 by Boylston Strategic Leadership Associates.

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