Last weekend I was on a road trip with my son. We went to Virginia Beach to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. This was somewhere around my eleventy-seventh Bruce show since the 1980’s; it was my son’s first.
This trip was something we’ve talked about for a long time. One of the things I promised when we were talking about doing this was that we would end up right where we were, standing right in front of the stage with no one between us and the band. I had no business promising that because I had no way of knowing I could make that dream come true.
Sometimes things work out the way they should. We stood and watched the show from the barricade in front of the stage and were often inches from Bruce and the band. But this isn’t about father/son road trips. Nor is it about how dreams will not be thwarted.
This is about watching a Bruce Springsteen concert and about seeing that he understands something that so many bosses who aren’t The Boss don’t.
The Boss On Management
I’m not a music critic, I am a fan. I’m not going to go into the details of the show. What I will tell you is that if you are a Bruce fan and you do not have tickets, you should break open the piggy bank. The man is in his mid 60’s and still rocks harder than any three twenty-somethings. The band matches his abilities and seems as if they’ll play as hard and long as he wants to go on a given night.
But what can bosses learn about management from this guy? After all Bruce Springsteen is just a musician.
Well, not really. He is also the leader of a band. One could make the case that an unsuccessful band is more like a charity, but a successful one like E Street is an industry and its leader, a business man. As goes the band, so goes Bruce. When The Boss is successful, the band and a lot of other folks are able to pay their bills.
I have no idea how the man conducts his business out of the public eye. And from my spot there at the front of the stage, I think I saw a big reason why the band works so hard.
At the end of the show, Springsteen and The E Street Band took their well deserved bows. They headed toward the ramp at the rear of the stage to end the show. As I’ve seen him do time and again, Bruce stopped at the top of the ramp.
Tough Times Don’t Exclude Respect
We live in a time where the little guy is not so popular. People and their families are tossed aside to satisfy the bottom line. The people at the top neither know nor care for the people below. I once worked for someone who could call me by name. More recently, I worked for someone who couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge my presence in the elevator. I’ll leave it to you to guess who motivated me more.
Times are tough. People are grateful for work. That does not entitle managers to treat them as if they’re fortunate to have work. Too few know that.
The show ended and the band headed to the ramp at the back of the stage. Springsteen was the first one to the ramp, but he did not go down it. He stopped at the top of the ramp. As each of the musicians in his band passed, he stopped them. Each got a smile, a few words and a pat on the back. The members of The E Street Band earned that recognition.
The recognition wasn’t much. It was simple, and visibly heartfelt. Does it take more than that? I don’t think it does.
So what your boss can learn from Bruce Springsteen is that a little bit of humble gratitude goes a long way.
We work to put food on the table, take care of the light bill and keep a roof over the kids’ heads. Work helps us take care of our physical needs, but it should also be personally satisfying.
Some of us play saxophone for Bruce Springsteen in front of 20,000 people. Others of us do the office thing, build cars or teach kindergarten. We all get paid for what we do, but it sure helps to get a thank you and a pat on the back from the boss…or The Boss, as the case may be.