I see (and have written about) a lot of parallels between music teams and business teams. A recent MusicRadar interview by one of the finest musicians on the planet, Leland Sklar, really rang true for me.
Lee has played bass on over 2500 albums for artists as varied as BB King, Phil Collins, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, and Lyle Lovett. He’s a sought-after studio and tour musician. And, he’s a genuinely nice guy. His world view is interesting & entertaining, and he engages willingly with fans on social media.
What’s Lee’s approach? What does he do – to get hired again and again – that countless other musicians don’t do? Lee says, “It’s not about bringing your chops (skills) to the date – it’s what kind of energy and professionalism you bring with you and how you improve the creative process.”
By tweaking Lee’s language a little for business application (with his permission – thank you, Lee), let’s apply his insights to the question, “How do you make yourself a valuable, sought-after business team member?”
Learn As Much As You Can
“It behooves you to bring as much facility and versatility” to your work opportunities as you can. Refine your skills constantly. Toss rusty, less valuable skills while building needed skills nimbly. Be proactive – don’t wait to be asked.
Learn The Language & The Tools
In the music world, musicians that can sight-read sheet music have a huge advantage over musicians that can’t. Every business has frameworks, systems, and approaches that it prefers. Be adept at your company’s language and tools. Study. Speak up with suggestions. Inquire why. Be skilled at your company’s foundational methodologies.
“Be somebody that people get along with.” Be nice. Be a positive person in every interaction. Be engaged – if the team is reviewing progress and performance, don’t text or email; be present & offer insights. Be enthusiastic! Be the person that moves things forward, nicely. “Be the person you’d hire if it was your business.”
You can’t effectively serve anyone else if you’re not 100% healthy – spiritually, mentally, and physically. Take good care of yourself so you can contribute genuinely, happily, and consistently. Drugs and alcohol incapacitate you. “If you go on stage and you’re messed up, you’re disrespecting your fellow musicians and audience members.” Eat right. Sleep right. Exercise. Repeat daily!
See the World
“Anything you can do that makes you a better person will be reflected” in the work you do. Don’t sequester yourself! Take advantage of opportunities to see different companies. Go to customer sites to learn how they use your company’s products and services. Talk with people. What you learn, see, and hear can help you see the world from their eyes . . . and adapt to serve better.
What is your experience? What tips would you add to this list? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.
Photo © Courtesy of Leland Sklar. All rights reserved.