Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beyond One-Hit Wonders: Integrity and Longevity in Leadership

I was recently reminded of the pop-punk banks that I adored a decade ago in high school and college. Bands with names like, Yellowcard, Hoobastank, and Fall Out Boy. I have no idea what these bands are doing nowadays, but I do know that they've essentially been replaced by a new set of bands with the same pop-punk sound.

You can convince someone to listen to your song once. It's something entirely different to continue to make significant music for years to come.

The secret? Integrity. It's the difference between longevity and being a one-hit wonder.

Radiohead and U2 and Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney have made amazing music for decades. Carly Rae Jepsen and Skrillex and Flo Rida and most of what's on the radio or MTV probably won't last for another 365 days.

(I say probably; there are exceptions. Like Justin Bieber. That kid appears to be unstoppable. And I'm not saying "moral integrity," like being an upright role model. I'm saying having a consistent identity and value system that is unwavering and undivided.)

Seth Godin wrote about it in this post:

Long-term manipulation is extremely difficult.
In the short run, it's easy. 
It's easy to fool someone or lie to them or give them what they think they want. It's easy to write a great block of copy, to sell on credit, to grab the attention of the mob. 
Not so easy: to build mutually profitable long-term relationships that lead to satisfaction, trust and work worth doing. 
Lincoln was right about fooling people, but along the way we often forget that while trickery is easy, the longer path of keeping your promises is far more satisfying and stable.

Long-term Gospel impact requires commitment and trust. Leaders can manipulate and use charm and charisma to get people to do what they want in the short-term. To create a movement that lasts means being willing to consistently show up and have integrity. Integrity means "the state of being whole and undivided." The music groups and world-changing movements that fizzled and faded probably had a sense of self-worth that was determined by the shifting values of the world around them. The ones that lasted remained whole and "true to themselves" while navigating the fluctuating cultural context.

Leadership integrity requires creating values. This doesn't mean becoming stagnate or boring or inflexible. In fact, having integrity requires constant innovation and reinvention in order to endure, all while remaining faithful to those values and identity. U2 still sounds like U2, even though their sound has evolved with each new album. But it's still Bono and The Edge and Larry and Adam doing their thing, making fantastic music together.

Jesus created a history-transforming movement because He knew exactly who He was and what His mission was about. He presently invites us into this Gospel-movement to keep transforming our world, living out the good news of the kingdom of God. "I am with you to the very end of the age." That's the language of integrity.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16)

1 comment:

  1. Great post, especially relevant in Youth Ministry!

    For the record, Fall Out Boy for a period of 5-6 years were at the top of the Punk scene before breaking up. Yellowcard were boss in the 90's.