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What Drumming Taught Me About Leading Teams

Bob Bailey Bob BaileySep 17, 2019

What Drumming Taught Me About Leading Teams

John or Ringo?
Prince or Sheila?
Sammy or Alex?

As a CEO, manager or team leader, you’re the one leading the way for the group and the one people look to first for direction. Huge obligation, to say the least. Some people might say the person running the show would be akin to a lead singer in a band. Well, I’d say they’re wrong.

True that the lead singer or “front man” is physically in front of everyone else — slapping the hands of fans and glistening in the spotlight. A great fantasy for most of us. But the reality is their view is limited to what they can see directly ahead of them. It’s exciting, but incomplete.

I choose to “be the drummer” for a bunch of reasons. In addition to being the stereotypical “wisecracking but introverted band member,” the drummer sets the pace, keeps the rhythm, is the foundation for others to build on. Best of all, you can see the whole arena from where you sit.

Hang with me for a minute. I’ll explain…

The drummer sets the pace, the rhythm and can see the whole arena from where they sit.

Setting the pace — Sometimes, it’s a “straight between the eyes” rocker; sometimes, it’s a power ballad. Every organization requires a pace that is energetic and ambitious. It starts with clear vision and expectations. The pace determines the feeling and the outcome. The pace creates energy or saps it.

Keeping the rhythm — Knowing when it’s a steady beat or when fills are needed, it’s about staying in the pocket and blending consistency with style.

The best seat in the house — The drummer’s vantage point is the full view — your band, the audience, the reactions, who’s crushing and who needs a breather. You can extend the set or cut it short. And yes, it provides a bit of safe space for the introverts out there.

Leading from the drummer’s seat, by definition, puts the attention on everyone else contributing to the song.

It keeps credit and adoration where they belong: on the team.

Sure, the drummer takes the mic from time to time while drumming, but it’s the exception, not the rule. The more it’s about the band, the bigger the hits and the more durable you become.

At your service,
Bob Bailey


Photos by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash
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