Leadership Lessons from Adele's Grammy Performance
Last Monday night I, like millions of people around world, watched the 58th annual Grammy awards to both take in the spectacle and to tweet about it. And it did not disappoint with great performances by Kendrick Lamar, the Hamilton Musical live from Broadway, Alabama Shakes, James and Tori, BB King tribute and some Stevie Wonder. Those performances balanced the scales for me when it came to slight annoyances, namely the constant Taylor Swift cam, even when things weren't about her. But, unlike Kanye West, I know that Taylor can strike at any moment to even "the least of these" so I won't complain about her...
But the moment that stood out for me was Adele's performance of "All I Ask" (Please note: this blog does not discount the subject matter covered in the song). Now, I am an Adele fan. I remember when her first single "Chasing Pavement" was a "free iTunes song of week" download before her debut album 19 was released. At the time, to know Adele made you cool and underground. Then she performed on SNL during the 2008 US election season (Tina Fey was the host) and ADELE was born. She got people to buy CDs, bro. CDs. I pre-ordered 21 on iTunes before "Rolling in The Deep" came out. I got Wifey tix to see Adele in October. I'm team Adele.
That said, I haven't even given 25 a listen to yet. Maybe it's because of the over 'satch' (abbreviation of saturation) of 'Hello'. Or maybe I just have other albums I wanna hear. Either way, I wasn't familiar with the song she was planning on doing. Sorry, that's a lie: She played it for James Corbin on their karaoke drive. I digress. So Adele gets up after being intro'd by Bruno Mars and we all expect her to slay.
And she doesn't. By no fault of her own, audio issues plague her performance and it throws her off. See for yourself (Here's hoping this video stays forever).
If you watch her eyes, you can see she knows there's nothing she can do but motor through that sucker and save face. The longer it goes, fear leads to sadness, sadness leads to frustration, frustration then leads to the dark side. Okay, that's a bit much but she's not happy at all. After the 4:00 mark, she aims her best through the key change and it's not her best, according to her body language (side note: Her worst is still better than 98% of the world's "gold medal day" and I'm in the LOW end of that percentile). It's the 4:46 part that kills me though, when she knows it's over and the pro reminds us all that she's a human with one shrug to then shortly after, deflect attention by saying "I love you Kendrick, you're amazing."
Now was it that bad? No. Did I leave the room when it was on live because I felt bad? Yes. But is her life and career over? Nope. In fact, there's much I learned from her performance that one can incorperate into their leadership, regardless of style.
- As prepared as one can be, something can always go wrong so be ready for anything.
- Never throw anyone under the bus. Adele mentioned later on in a tweet that she knew exactly what was wrong (a mic fell inside the piano) but didn't blame the player or the stage hand. That's class. (side note: I still think Taylor sabotaged her but meh...)
- Sometimes, you gotta go all the way till the end...even if it kills you.
- End well and cry with those who love you. We would have lost it if Adele had cried in front of us all. Her shrug and smile made is a group moment.
I know these lessons are true because of an interview Adele did with Ellen the following Thursday to talk about the performance. Take a look until 3:10 or listen to her talk about Disneyland.
Some other leadership lessons that are great...
- Don't fear your own limitations. Here it is, the best selling artlst of the 21st century admitting that she is pitchy live. I know less than stellar leader who hate admitting they fart let alone do anything wrong. For Adele to admit that, with a great joke to boot, speaks volumes about her comfortability with herself.
- Crying is okay when things don't go well:)
- When it's over, sometimes you gotta Treat Yo'Self (legally, of course).
- Once you've had your worse moment, use it as a shield for the next one. Bad "in front" moments will happen. The leader in us is build on how we handle them. And judging by Adele's response, she's more of a champ than we thought. See for yourself...