Leadership Lessons from Jersey Boys

I had the good fortune of seeing the musical Jersey Boys last week. It is a fantastic show that chronicles the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to musical superstardom. The show is full of wonderful music and even a few leadership lessons.

We probably would not have ever heard of The Four Seasons had the original three members not been willing to bring on Bob Gaudio. Bob was a musical genius who wrote the music and lyrics to most of their songs. The three debated whether they would include Gaudio and ultimately decided yes. The lesson we can learn from this is that great leaders hire better and smarter people. Great leaders don’t let ego stand in the way; they are humble and willing to admit that others may know more and then they surround themselves with these smarter people.

Despite their incredible success, The Four Seasons hit significant financial trouble when they discovered that one of the original members, Tommy DeVito, was using their money for gambling and other indiscretions and plunged them into significant debt. Leaders can learn several lessons from this episode. First, we must always have checks and balances in our systems and procedures. It is our responsibility, ultimately, to make sure we are monitoring the performance of our teams. Second, not all team members have the same values or integrity as you and the organization. I know it’s nice to think that the people you hire are good, honest people. But some of them get off track and you don’t always know why or how. So it’s good practice to have your monitoring procedures apply to everyone in the organization, including you and the people you trust the most. Third, there is a lesson about teamwork and loyalty. Rather than abandon Tommy, Frankie Valli decided to take on his debt and Valli worked for years to repay the money that Tommy owed. Frankie did this because Tommy had started the musical group that got Frankie off the streets of Jersey. Great leaders are loyal and committed to the team above all else. This is often rewarded in return by strong loyalty and commitment from the team.

Lastly, Jersey Boys reminds us to do what we love to do and pursue it with passion and perseverance. These four guys loved to sing. They loved making music. The road to fame and success was not always easy, but they were resilient and committed to chasing their dreams. If we do what we love to do and pursue our dreams with passion, we have a great chance of succeeding.

The Four Seasons sold over 100 million records worldwide and are one of the best-selling musical groups of all time. Use these lessons from Jersey Boys to help you lead your organization to record setting accomplishments!

Thanks for reading,

P.S. Follow me on Twitter, @jvearle, and don’t forget to share my blog with others who are passionate about leadership.


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