What Public Service Leaders can learn from ‘The Boss’ (aka Bruce Springsteen)
I’m sure several people reading this blog will possibly have raised eyebrows having read the title and are asking “What has Bruce Springsteen got to do with Public Service Leaders?”
Recently, Bruce returned to Cardiff Millennium Stadium as he said he would, in his previous concert at the Stadium five years ago. So for starters, you could say he delivers on his promises. Moreover, I see him as a great leader, with great leadership traits, which he clearly demonstrated whilst carrying out his job.
For instance, he clearly recognises the importance of engaging with his audience (read service users), and he does this in a couple of different ways.
He has built a section in his concert whereby he asks the audience which songs they would they like him to sing. This part of his concert has become legendary now, as audiences bring hand written catchy headlines on cardboard, by the hundreds. He spends time reading them, and a camera is located behind him to enable the tens of thousands in the audience can see what he is seeing. He will then choose a selection of cardboard messages and sing a few of the songs and display the relevant message too. He keeps the rest of the messages and displays many of them at future concerts. Great audience satisfaction and a great story to tell friends afterwards. I see that as great involvement and customer experience.
During the various sections of the concert, Springsteen invites audience members to sing and dance on stage with band members. Also Bruce and various band members join audiences at the front and side of the stage and to sing with them. I’m not saying this is unique to Springsteen, as other artists do similar approaches. What I would say, he displays a real human touch.
Whilst he is clearly the leader of the band (read organisation), he publicly acknowledges the efforts of his team members and the undoubted contribution they make on behalf of the band. He spotlights them constantly throughout the concert. He does this by encouraging individual band members to take centre stage and highlight their skills and expertise. He creates a working environment where his team members enjoy themselves so much, that it’s difficult to decide who is having the better time, the band or the audience. This is an excellent example of staff engagement.
Springsteen has to think strategically before every gig because of the different needs of his audience. The set list is planned meticulously so that each section of his varied fan base feel satisfied at the end of the gig. Whether you’re a fan of his early material, his acoustic efforts or his biggest hits, there’s something for everyone at his gigs.
In terms of value for money, there is never a warm up act at a Springsteen concert, there isn’t time! One of the other unique aspects of a Bruce Springsteen concert, is you will see hundreds of audience members set the timer on their watches or mobile phone the minute he strikes the first chord and then stop at the final chord. He is on stage for at least twice the average length of time of most artists. Following every concert, besides thousands of views being shared on social media, radio phones etc. there is always the massive debate as to the exact length of time he was on stage. You can’t ever buy that kind of publicity.
So in summary, The Boss consults, engages, involves, tailors service delivery, works strategically and has high customer satisfaction. Good traits of any Public Sector Leader I would suggest.
Finally, I would suggest an appropriate nickname.