Lady Gaga: Are Leaders Born That Way ?


Can we compare Lady Gaga with Mahatma Gandhi ?

Greatest leaders of all time do share common traits and one of the most important one is to be able to influence and inspire crowds by standing on their unique and often revolutionary vision,  sharing strong personal values and be who they truly are, as they were born that way.

Jamie Anderson, Professor of Strategic Management at Antwerp Management School in Belgium argues in a recent speech on TED named ” Mahatma Gaga”  that.Lady Gaga is a great leader as she is able to influence millions of people around the world to follow her on social media or listen to her unconventional messages she share in her shows, videos and dressing with outrageous and provocative outfits.  Some argue that it is even more difficult to lead on social media than is the traditional leadership in work settings.

  • Do You Believe That Leaders are Born or Made ?

That is a classic question but as an executive coach I agree with Jamie Anderson that leaders are born that way, although I think you need to nurture and develop your innate leadership skills. I have coached many clients with various cultural backgrounds and I have concluded that leaders share some personality traits such as emotional intelligence while other people are more comfortable being followers. Nothing good or bad in both roles, but people should know their natural style and cultivate their talent and develop their strengths not try to be someone they are not.

  •  What Makes an Influencer a Leader  ?

    • Influencing people by being you:Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”  In other word be who you are and deliver a clear message that followers, fans, friends, customers can identify with. Lady Gaga assures her fans that it is OK to be an odd “freak” and different. This is a comforting message for most teenagers, young Gen Y adults and even baby boomers who are out of job and hopeless.
    • Make it personal:  Lady Gaga admitted she was bullied when she was a teenager. A sad statistic shows that 77% of kids in America have been bullied.  No  wonder why Gaga is a true role model for teenagers. Steve jobs too has been rejected many times. From the beginning of his life Jobs was rejected by his birth parents and adopted. Jobs was booted out of the company that he built, He said  “I had been rejected, but I was still in love, so, I decided to start over”, in a speech of Steve Jobs, entitled, “You’ve Got To Find What You Love” at the 2005 Stanford University commencement exercises. Most of Apple’ products initially appealed to iconoclasts or  maverick designers.

Be yourself no matter what they say -Sting

    • Walk your talk : People stop believing and following leaders who do differently than what they say.
      GaGa said in a new interview with Rolling Stone magazine: “When I wake up in the morning, I feel just like any other insecure 24-year-old girl,”, “Then I say, ‘Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today’.”GaGa says her number one priority is her fans. And she continues by saying : I don’t even drink water onstage in front of anybody, because I want them to focus on the fantasy of the music.” 

 Lady Gaga on Twitter :  Please everyone, take a moment to watch this. This is why I work so hard, this is why its wrong to hate: http://bit.ly/sEHt34

GaGa is so influential in today’s pop culture, society and teens  that the University of South Carolina developed a course based on her influences. The course, “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” depicts the unraveling of Lady Gaga’s music, fashion, videos and artistic actions and their sociologically significant dimensions.

Lady Gaga, Born That Way

Do You Believe Leaders Are Born That Way ? 


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19 thoughts on “Lady Gaga: Are Leaders Born That Way ?

  1. Miriam Slozberg December 5, 2011 at 10:33 pm Reply

    Good post, I mean Gaga is one incredible lady with such confidence in her. And leaders don’t become leaders until they find it within them to build that confidence. But yes no one is born with it. Some are more confident than others but anyone is capable of finding it within them to develop it and be a leader.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach December 5, 2011 at 11:48 pm Reply

      Hi Miriam, Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Based of my 20 year international career experience and through my new career as an executive coach, I can tell you that not everybody has what is needed to become a leader even if they work very hard. Some people can be extremely bright and great at creating great business ideas but are unable to inspire others or manage them effectively. In 80 % of the cases, for those people the gap between who they truly are and what is needed to be a leader is so big, that it requires a huge amount of energy to comply with a managerial job and become what they are not. But I agree with you that having some talent is not enough, leadership needs to be developed usually through trials and errors and big failures! Passion is not enough either, you need to work constantly on developing your strengths to reach your full potential. Lady GaGa can mot be who she is and perform at the top without working very hard.

  2. Wendy Cassera December 5, 2011 at 11:47 pm Reply

    What an interesting perspective. It is very true what Gandi wrote and yes, Lady Gaga is living that. She is doing it in a way that is not destructive or anything like that, just being who she is.
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts and this perspective on it.
    Smiles

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach December 6, 2011 at 9:12 am Reply

      Great point Wendy. You are right to point out that she is not encouraging young people to be destructive, quite the opposite way but she do it the way people FEEL !

  3. Dorien Morin-van Dam December 6, 2011 at 8:09 am Reply

    Great post Anne. I love lady Gaga! I think most people can not be leaders. Not only are leaders born, most who could lead, don’t. Very few are willing to sacrifice privacy, family and their life and open up to public scrutiny. I admire those that stand for what is right, act instead of talk and work harder than anyone else. Then of course there is luck in being at the right place at the right time and drive. Remember, Mother Teresa, a nun, became a leader, too! Thanks for your insights, Anne.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach December 6, 2011 at 9:22 am Reply

      Thanks Dorien for reinforcing the message that leaders are born with specific talent but without cultivation and hard work, this gift nature gave them would be simply wasted. This is true for athletes, artists, and people like you and me who are passionate about what they do and who want to be true to themselves. I am one of those people who do no believe in luck, there are always opportunities out there and people make their own luck by jumping into the unknown and ignore their fears.

  4. Martha Giffen December 6, 2011 at 8:26 am Reply

    Great post! As one who is a Gaga fan, I love her because of her wonderful marketing skills. She is the bomb in that area. And, this post is the bomb too!

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach December 6, 2011 at 9:10 am Reply

      Thanks Martha for your nice comment. You are made from the same material than Lady GaGa, you inspired me to think and act differently. I had fun but most of all I understood what Lady Gaga really is and went beyond my prejudices and bias about her. while I agree she has great marketing insights, I admire her for who she is and the positive influence she has on people and teens in particular. Parents should listen to what Lady Gaga is saying and doing to help kids being bullied, taking drugs or attempting suicide. Yes I think she is that powerful influencer. On a blogging side perspective, I could have have made this article with the title : 3 traits shared by great leaders but would have failed to deliver the true message about what is leadership.

  5. Sherrie Koretke (@SherrieKoretke) December 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm Reply

    Hi Anne,
    I fall into the leaders are born camp. To me, what sets leader apart from others is their commitment to improve, stand out from others, and develop good people skills.

    Love your look at Lady Gaga as a leader!
    Sherrie

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach December 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm Reply

      Thanks Sherrie for the comment. You are taking a courageous stand, most people confused being born equal and being clones ! I even read that if all humans have normally 2 hands then they should all be able to learn piano. True but not al will become Mozart, Chopin or Ray Charles !

  6. Catarina Alexon December 7, 2011 at 11:43 am Reply

    The best leaders are people born with certain carachteristics who are then educated and trained. Having said that, no education and training in the world will really make you a leader if you haven’t got the personality it takes.

    It’s unfair I know. But that’s the way it works.

    A good comparison is that personally I’m tone deaf. Like all tone deaf people I could learn to sing and play music. But I will never be as good as someone with a musical ear. Same goes for so called leaders who are just trained.

    Ann, Lady Gaga is a “marketing campaign”, just like Madonna. Both of them do it for money and fame. Ghandi on the other hand starved himself. Honestly think your comparison is a bit far fetched.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach December 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm Reply

      Catarina thanks for sharing your opinions. I like your comparison with music and agree with your idea about the just “trained” leaders.

      Regarding GaGa versus Gandhi both have similar motives: changing the way people think and act by being a role model. Yes GaGa makes money, a lot of money but so did Disney or Steve Jobs and you can say the same about Jack Welch or Bill Gates. Even Gandhi used a marketing strategy “the non violence campaign” was a great brand, a brilliant marketing idea to make Indian people putting the British empire down on its knees. If he starved himself it was to be like his followers. Lady GaGa cannot be just a pure marketing product, a creation of someone else, She is what she says she is and has the personality traits of an inspiring leader for millions of people who watch her shows or buy her music.

      You raise an interesting question Catarina about defining leaders by the cause they serve: Was Hitler a Great Leader ? Yes for sure unfortunately a fanatic one inspiring the Nazis he created. I guess he shares same leadership skills than Robespierre the leader of the bloody French revolution or Pol Pot the leader of the Khmer Rouge. and we can go on and on.

  7. Susan Oakes December 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm Reply

    Excellent post Anne and I think leader are born with certain characteristics. You just have to see the behaviour of different children to spot ones that could develop.

    I like the way you brought up emotional intelligence as that is one of the key characteristics. Some people who think they are leaders especially in large companies do not have the emotional intelligence and who may lead teams but do not develop their people.

    It is also interesting that people who have these natural characteristics like athletes with natural talent need guidance and coaching to be the best they can be.

  8. Jenny December 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm Reply

    What a cool idea for a leadership comparison. I also really appreciate the research behind the thoughts. How amazing that there is a University course using Lady Gaga’s career to explain sociology. I’d probably sign up for something like that.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach December 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm Reply

      Thanks Jenny, me too I would love to attend this program even if it is sociology and not marketing, it is how GaGa impacts others that is really interesting.

  9. Late Bloomers April 13, 2012 at 3:26 am Reply

    What an intriguing odd couple: Mahatma Gandhi and Lady Gaga, but it makes sense in the end. I agree with you it needs emotional intelligence and talent to become a leader, these are two characteriscs we are born with, paired with persistence, discipline and passion we might make it … Interesting how the “bad” leaders fit in but then we tend to think in stereotypes, no doubt all leaders share one trait: charisma.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach April 14, 2012 at 11:09 am Reply

      Thank you Barbara for your comment. The definition of charisma is:”compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others” . I think you can be a great leader without charisma but you cannot be a leader if you don’t inspire and influence other people. When I think about charismatic leaders I think that JFK was one of them, he had charm and great vision and even after his death he continued to inspired people to send and bring back the first human on the moon.

  10. Jon Mertz April 29, 2013 at 2:19 am Reply

    An interesting perspective, Anne. I don’t believe leaders are necessarily born but they do develop based on their experiences and interactions. At some point, something clicks and they lead from within in amazing ways.

    The times in which leaders lead also play a role. Gandhi and GaGa lead in very different times and in very different ways. Both have followers and the test of time will be interesting to see what stands with both.

    Successful leaders grow, learn, and strengthen over time, and it shows to the people who follow and join in their message and path.

    Thanks! Jon

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach April 29, 2013 at 8:09 am Reply

      Thanks Jon for sharing your perspective. When I wrote this article the “Gaga mania” was at its peak, I don’t thing she passed the time test and now she is just another marketing product. on the other hand Gandhi’s values and inspirational power of his words are stronger than ever.

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