It’s official, I’m currently a little obsessed with Harry Styles. I know, I know, I’m old enough to be his mother, and yes, if I was 20 years younger blah blah blah…. however, I digress.
These days in my work as a personal executive coach, I work predominately with leaders – CEO’s, Founders and those with significant influence. I’ve become more and more drawn to this arena, not because it’s my personal experience. I haven’t led companies, I’m not a natural visionary, I have no intention to do so.
I am however, genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of humanity moving forward. What is blatantly obvious to me is how damaging and toxic old school leadership is for all of us. We are being shown the extremes right now – the explicit manoeuvres of so-called politicians, the destruction of unity, and leaders are addicted to adrenaline and the chase, skewing decision making to be based on survival which can have enormous consequence on the planet.
In short, the well-being and consciousness of our leaders is paramount to the direction in which humanity will take.
As much as I too can get caught up in the fear of where we appear to heading as a society, coupled with climate change, I remain hopeful.
We, as a species, have an uncanny knack of evolving. Here’s where Harry Styles steps in for me as an example of a light that is starting to permeate the darkness of old school leadership.
This 26-year old musician is flipping it all on its head, and it’s working. As he finds his way in his solo career after the juggernaut that was One Direction, he is fast becoming a leading artist of influence, and not just with teenage girls. He is gaining the respect across all generations (see his latest performance with Stevie Nicks to name one), for good reason.
Here for starters, are 10 of my observations that I believe the leaders of this world would do well to slow down enough to notice. A favourite saying in the world of coaching is slowing down to speed up. If nothing else you have to concede that this guy has achieved an extraordinary amount in the last 10 years since he stepped into the limelight and is fast becoming a true leader in the music industry.
LEADING WITH LOVE AND KINDNESS
Harry’s message to the world is ‘treat people with kindness,’ not only does his merchandise reflect this, you genuinely get the sense he lives and breathes this from the footage out there. This seems even more poignant these days than ever. Translate that into the world of business and the recognition that all business is based on relationships, it seems to an obvious value to embrace and yet so often gets overlooked in the quest to compete.
Whether it’s through his lyrics, being moved to tears on camera or openly talking about the depth of love for his family, his vulnerability comes through. The result? Immediate connection with others. That connection has catapulted his success and will no doubt sustain it.
Known for actively taking a stand for different communities, shedding all prejudice with his bold fashion statements or his opening words to his fans at concerts ‘all are welcome here’, he stands for inclusivity. This draws all walks of life to the Harry Styles brand whilst breaking down barriers.
He’s dedicated to exploring all facets of his art and being ok with being a beginner over and over again. This willingness to evolve and walk into the unknown whilst continuing to appreciate everything that has brought him to this place to date points to someone who doesn’t bathe in judgement of self and others. This willingness, humility and courage to constantly grow is already paying off in spades.
As an artist, he clearly leads with creativity. It’s the commitment to harnessing creativity that leaders should be taking notice of. Whilst compiling his last two albums he deliberately created space around him and fiercely guarded it to avoid getting caught up in distractions, understanding the creativity flows when there is space for it.
Although 100% dedicated to his career, he can’t be accused of taking himself too seriously. In a recent interview he shares how he constantly asks himself the question of ‘is this fun?’ to steer the ship. By committing to this rule, the sense I get is that he has an exceptionally loyal and dedicated team who surround him. They want to be around him. The public wants to be around him, he’s infectious.
LIFTS PEOPLE UP
The Harry Styles brand and his leadership consistently aims to lift others up, rather than using his power to tear people down. Whether that’s his fans, minority communities or anyone he’s seen to interact with, you sense people leave feeling better. Sadly, in this day and age that feels rare to me right now. The result? Community, opportunities and collaboration.
To date, Harry doesn’t appear to have resorted to an excessive use of any stimulant to help him cope with life. He claims that he was never into drugs and alcohol during the 1D days as he was terrified of f**king it up for the band. Although undoubtedly, he’s no angel, he’s bucking the trend in his industry. Additionally, he has openly embraced therapy to support himself and his growth.
USES HIS POWER AS A LEADER TO CHAMPION
As an influential public figure rather than abuse his power he uses it for the greater good, whilst at the same time not compromising his own desire to succeed in the industry. He is living proof that the two really can go hand in hand, and in fact proving that quantum leaps can be created when you do.
DISCIPLINE & FOCUS
Harry can’t be accused of being afraid of hard work. The last 10 years since he appeared on the scene at sweet sixteen, he has lived a life of discipline and focus. Yet, alongside this his values of family, friends, health and fun remain firmly lived into.
I could go on. You get the general gist.
One could argue ‘it’s alright for him he can afford all the support in the world’…and that’s the point, he’s created it and surrounds himself with the right people so he focus on what he does best…entertainment.
So I am hopeful. The world is looking for hope right now and my personal experience as an onlooker to Harry Styles is that he is leading the way in creating hope. There is a new wave of young leaders that are bringing this light. Perhaps it’s time for some humility, awareness and willingness to learn from them.