This week my Twiter feed has exploded with tweets about Justin Bieber along with the hashtags #WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin and #DeportBieber. Although the young singer’s actions were reckless and immature at best, the Biebs provides all of us with an opportunity to learn a thing or two about leadership.
1. A leader is anyone who has influence– As many beliebers are arguing today, Justin is just “acting his age” or “doing what kids do” and that his behavior is being blown out of proportion. Maybe that’s true, but his role as an entertainer has given him influence—massive influence in fact—over popular culture, music, acceptable hairstyles, and most importantly, other young people. Like it or not, the hoopla over his arrest only confirms his influence and identity as a leader.
2. All leaders have blind spots– Weaknesses, faults, temptations, call them whatever you like, but without a careful examination of your own blind spots any leader can make one of those mistakes that, to everyone else, looks like such a bonehead move. Money, fame and power certainly don’t eliminate blind spots. If anything, they enhance them. This is why it is so important to allow others to point out your blind spots to you.
3. Leaders don’t insulate themselves from accountability– We’ve all seen it. Whether a small-town politician or an international superstar, people flock to please those with power and influence. However, the most successful leaders know that they must have people on their team to hold them accountable to their goals and deliver warnings when a leader looks to be headed into a blind spot. I don’t know if Justin Bieber has people like this in his life or not, but I know that the unfortunate decisions he has made this week remind me to keep close the people in my life who are not afraid to “push back” on my ideas or actions.
4. Whenever a leader makes a mistake, the opposition will celebrate– We all know the moniker “nobody’s perfect” until one of our leaders lets us down. It is a sad truth that human beings seem to love seeing one another fail—and hacking one another apart on social media outlets. However, Justin, and any one else who has ever faced opposition, can choose to respond by ignoring the malicious, learning what he can from his critics and using the experience as a motivator to push him towards his goals—what I like to call falling forward.
5. Your character will ultimately shape your influence– No matter how thoroughly you divide your public life from your private life, both will eventually have to match up. In Justin’s case, his image has gone from hardworking entertainer to another spoiled celebri-teen. As the pastor Andy Stanley says, “Character is not made in crisis; it is only exhibited.” In challenging times, do our words, actions and reactions match up to the person we proclaim to be publicly?
For more insight into leadership and how we can redefine what true leadership means, be sure to check out Leadership Redefined.