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5 leadership lessons from celebrities

What makes a good leader? And what makes for a great leader?

In reality, these questions aren’t easy to answer and largely depend on your cultural understanding of leadership. Nonetheless, case studies of successful leaders can help us define our frameworks for a stronger personal brand and better empathy. 

In a recent blog post, I looked at leadership lessons from well-known figures, from Richard Branson to Abraham Lincoln. Each leader has a unique perspective on problem-solving, people management, and a lot more.

Another talent pool to leverage for comparison is celebrities! You might think that music, TV, or film stars aren’t exactly leaders by definition, but actually, they are managing their own personal brand (aka fame) daily.

In this post, we will take a look at five celebrities who can teach us about leadership. 

Bear Grylls: Take risks

Photo by Jamie Gray, from IPTC Photo Metadata

Celebrity explorer Bear Grylls has made a name for himself thanks to his adventurous spirit and ‘never say never’ attitude. In his TV shows, he encourages participants to take a calculated approach to risk. His belief in no risk no gain is grounded in his ability to map out a problem and take a chance he is confident will pay off. There is always a safety net in place, but Bear encourages others to push their limits.

Leaders can learn from this way of challenging their team to be daring and to evolve. Good leaders train their employees with all the information they need before giving them the gentle nudge to go off on their own to take calculated risks. Whether you are helping someone survive crocodiles or pitch an unconventional idea, good leaders encourage risk-taking.

The Kardashians: Leverage publicity 

Photo by Rodin Eckenroth @ WireImage

The Kardashians are renowned for their savvy approach to commercials. Whether it’s fashion, TV, or music, the Kardashian family gets involved in maximizing the potential of a particular trend. No business cycle lasts forever, and this family knows how to ride a success for long term gain.

This same calculated opportunism applies to business. As business cycles become shorter and shorter, you need to think more than ever about leveraging an opportunity. 

Lana Del Rey: Reinvent yourself

Photo by Mat Hayward @ Getty Images

If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Before she found fame, Lana Del Rey was a prep-school graduate from upstate New York named Elizabeth “Lizzy” Grant. When she kickstarted her singing career, she used her real name. But after new hair color, deeper voice, and her 1960s style, Lana Del Rey was born shortly after.

Reinvention is an important lesson for businesses. With the need to iterate fast to satisfy your customer needs, reinvention will be a key part of standing out. Taking a business from Lizzie to Lana requires imagination and persistence, but could be hugely beneficial! 

Emma Watson: Manage imposter syndrome

Photo by Julia Shea @ Cover Images 

Harry Potter fans may know Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger, but she has become a fully-fledged actress, model, and activist in her own right. She has been particularly vocal about her own struggle with imposter syndrome and doubting her own ability. People with imposter syndrome feel as if they are faking their way through their work or life, just waiting for others to realize they are incompetent. 

Following Emma’s lead, any leader can sometimes feel they aren’t capable of being in charge. Being an entrepreneur adds an extra sense of insecurity. So many people are counting on you, and at times it can feel like you are beyond your depth. If these fears stop you from acting or affect how you work, this can eventually be damaging to your team. Leaders need to manage imposter syndrome proactively.

Justin Bieber: Go niche

Photo by Matt Baron @ Shutterstock

Baby, baby, baby. Justin Bieber needs no introduction. It’s no secret that he is a polarising figure who many people just don’t like at all. But the fact of the matter is that he has a core audience who loves him. He has focused on this audience of tween/teens throughout his career to great success, not caring about everyone’s comments.

This is an effective lesson. Once you are solid in knowing your target market, find a hook that has a strong appeal to them. Don’t try to be everything to everyone from Day 1!

So there we have another set of leadership lessons, this time straight from the Hollywood Hills of LA. If you are working on your own path to becoming a better leader, find your source of inspiration, and find a way to incorporate those learnings into your personal style. 

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