Kanye West and the fragility of leadership

Posted on September 18, 2009



This past weekend, I watched in disbelief when Kanye West boldly ambushed Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech advocating for Beyonce’s video at the MTV Video Music Awards. It was rude, outlandish, and pointless. Not only did Kanye convert a moment of celebration into extreme awkwardness but it damaged his standings in the artistic community.

Regardless if you are in entertainment, the arts, business, church, or non-profit, the credibility of leadership is a fragile one. Fans and followers are very fanatical, but they are also very fickle. While a small group of loyal fans will always be at your side, the majority can turn on you in a moment. Say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or act in the wrong way and your stock plummets. Kanye is arguably one of the coolest humans alive. Now, he is the object of ridicule on Twitter and other social media forms. However, I am confident that Kanye will survive, especially after the next celebrity has his or her meltdown. Us common folks may not get a second chance.

Tribal leadership in the creative community is a powerful and awesome responsibility. But often popularity gets confused with real power. Being well liked is not the same as being well followed. Abuse your position and you will soon find that you have neither. You know it’s bad when even President Obama called Kanye a jack@** at a press conference.

Your leadership influence is less like a tank and more like the Space Shuttle. It’s fragile and high maintenance. The smallest irregularity could end disastrously. But, well kept and in check, your leadership can take you and your passengers to all new heights.

Posted in: Creative Leaders