Leadership Lessons from Lyle Lovett

I made my first trip to Carnegie Hall to see Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. It’s the first time I’ve seen him play since the pandemic and of course, he did not disappoint.

The music was wonderful, but what was on display turned out to be a leadership lesson as well. What struck me was his sheer generosity of spirit, and there was nothing in his presentation that gave the impression that he regarded the band as “His Large Band.” There was a profound respect for everyone on the stage. Everyone was highlighted. Everyone played solos. Everyone was introduced. You heard the history of their relationships and friendships which spanned decades.

I watched, thinking how valued everyone must feel. The joy on the stage could not be contained. Each band member was brilliant solo and their genius combined in an extraordinary collaboration. It made me think of recruiting. Lyle attracts the best because he is a brilliant talent in his own right, but it is his ability to share the stage, to share the moment at Carnegie Hall with his peers that sets him apart.

Chris Isaak made an unexpected appearance. He had never played Carnegie Hall. Lyle exited the stage and Chris played a brilliant rendition of “Wicked Game.” He thanked Lyle for getting him in through the backdoor.

Sharing The Spotlight

The most impactful leaders have genius, but being able to attract others who are best-in-class and giving them the opportunity to do their finest work is more important. Iconic leadership is about having the warmth, humor, and generosity to share the spotlight, or perhaps pass the mic. Often, great talent is recruited because of dazzling or dynamic leaders, but generous leadership is how great talent is retained.

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Kelly Herrick

Kelly Herrick is the founder of Searchlight, a digital recruitment firm specializing in media, advertising, and emerging technology. Originally from Texas, Kelly has made NY her home and lives with her husband, son, dog, and three cats in Westchester.