I caught this interview with Kaki King on CNN today. I’ve never heard of Kaki King, so I was barely paying attention when she said something that just blew me away:
I play guitar for a living, and this guitar is way smarter than me. I know that, and I say this a lot, but I really mean it from the bottom of my heart. I am a guitar student, and I will be for the rest of my life. There is just too much to learn in a lifetime. There is something beautiful and challenging and humbling about that that I don’t want to let go of.
This is a woman that Rolling Stone magazine named a “Guitar God” in 2006, yet instead of considering herself a master, she embraces the role of life-long learner. Although the art of the music is interdependent on both her and her guitar, she exalts the potential of the instrument over her own strengths and accomplishments.
Gosh, I wish more leaders would view the people they’ve been given the privilege to lead that way. Our attitudes as leaders should be “these employees of mine are way smarter than me. I am a student of the potential of their behavior, and I could spend a lifetime learning how to better partner with them to create an organization where we, our customers, and our community can all thrive. I am humbled by the challenge of what our interdependence can achieve.”
Kaki's comments about her music remind me that the art of leadership is in mastering the discipline and joy of continual learning. Kaki might disagree, but I think people are more fascinatingly complex than any musical instrument. There is just too much to learn in a lifetime about how to work well with others.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!