Bruce Springsteen Conducts a Leadership Workshop

Written August 11, 2015
Updated March 13, 2016

Not many people would attempt to turn Bruce Springsteen into a leadership lesson. If any of my readers out there DON’T know what a fan I am of Bruce Springsteen, then I’ve failed in my communications over the past two decades. I listen to Bruce almost every day and have since the mid-1980s. I was slow to learn about Bruce. He is just a couple of years younger than I am and had already been playing for 10 years before I heard his music. In fact, he has been playing since a teenager. There is no doubt that I will have many blogs about Rock ‘n Roll in general and particularly Bruce and a few others. I can’t sing, and I can’t play. But I love to listen to music, especially with my headphones.

To test a blogging widget, you can see on that there is a countdown to his April 5, 2016 concert at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. I have only been to two other Springsteen concerts. They are legendary. The last one I attended in Houston, he played for three hours straight and only stopped because he would be fined $1,000 per minute after 10:00 p.m. He actually stopped right on the minute as the band left him to play acoustically for another half-hour with the decibels below the allowed level after 10:00 p.m.

He had rather play in Europe where he has been known to play 4-hours, 15 minutes to several hundred thousand fans and then come back the next night to do it again. In this last two-year tour, I think he played almost 200 separate songs. His catalogue is that big, and they say he has hundreds in the book never made public. In fact, many of his newly released songs were written years ago, pulled out, amped up and released. My wife Linda has been instructed to bury me in one of my Springsteen shirts. On my behalf, would you please hold her to it? The decision will be out of my control.

Bruce and the core E-Street Band have played together for many years. Still, he does not tell the band the songs or the order until just as the show starts. And his members say the list doesn’t matter much, because he almost always changes mid-stream. He is also prone to decide in the moment to play a different version of the intended song. He will do this on his own sometimes, like taking to the piano to play Independence Day as a solo in a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the song telling his dad he is leaving home as a teenager. But, as this link below will show you, he often throws in an unplanned song suggested by a fan to the band. This is where the leadership example comes in. I invite you to watch this video not just to pump up your day, but to literally count the number of leadership traits you can observe and learn.

There is risk involved as you will see. There is a spontaneity that doesn’t give anybody time to posture or second guess. The band is watching and waiting while preparing for an experience. They have probably played You Never Can Tell before, but this Chuck Berry classic is about to become a live product that they hear as they make it.

Note the showcasing of the band members, especially the horn section. They have not been with the E-Street Band very long compared to the core members. The young Jake Clemons on the saxophone is the nephew of the great Clarence Clemons who died from a stroke in 2012 after playing with the E Street Band since the beginning. There is no consulting about their readiness. Yet he pulls, not pushes.

Most of all, note that Springsteen and everybody else is simply having fun. It’s contagious. When I last saw Bruce and the band in Houston a couple of years ago, I especially watched them closely in the third hour. They never tired. In fact, a new energy drifted into the third hour as they clearly were just flat out having fun, feeding off each other. Like in this video, he often cranks up the band and then just rides with the momentum.

And finally, listen to his very last sentence at the fade out. It sums up teamwork. It is the embodiment of entrepreneurial ingenuity. It is the trophy for possessing the creative spirit and having a leader pull it out of a group of highly focused people. Use his last sentence to evaluate your own leadership skill set. LFM

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