Creative Leadership Absent In Major Labels – Or Why the Record Industry Is Fucked Nowadays
A new study suggests that people who express creative ideas are less likely to be identified as having leadership potential. In other words, when staff members in major label boardroom meetings talk about ways to move the record industry in profitable new directions, questions about their suitability for roles of higher leadership arise.
Even though the record industry knows that it needs creative leadership to get it out of the mess that it's in now, the fact is that thinking outside of the box is at odds with the stereotypical view of what leaders should do. Real leaders create goals, diminish uncertainty, and maintain the status quo.
Creative leaders, on the other hand, see the bigger picture, traverse unfamiliar terrain, and challenge the old way of doing things. Researcher Jennifer Mueller and her collaborators have concluded that organizations are biased in favor of selecting leaders who would "preserve the status quo by sticking with feasible but relatively unoriginal solutions." This is, perhaps, why things are they way they are in the record industry nowadays. There's a complete lack of creative leadership.
Of course, major labels have tried to embrace creative leaders in the past and many of them failed spectacularly at it too. So it goes both ways. But, it's more than a little disheartening to think that for the last decade or more, creative leaders that could've potentially reinvented the record industry were likely looked down upon. Inferior. Not capable of handling a leadership role. This is not to say that there aren't creative leaders in the labels either. Clearly, there are many smart and brilliant people who understand the potential of our times and want nothing more than embrace radical and disruptive technologies and new business models. But, when push comes to shove, these leaders are more likely to get a pink slip than a promotion. The record industry needs to familiarize itself with this bias and realize the potential of the creative leaders that lie within their ranks.
Practical, yet tired solutions won't save the major labels – not this time. And maybe creative leaders won't either. But we'll never know if they aren't promoted.