Some people may say that her reputation is about boyfriends and fashion. Others, like her fans (of which she has many) have a lot more to say. Let's face it, Taylor Swift has amassed a ton of evidence that showcases her outstanding brand consistently and clearly.
Here are 9 insights about Taylor Swift and how she rocks as a leader, and how it can help us all be better leaders.
1. Know What You Are Passionate About
Taylor is very clear on what she likes and she embraces being a role model for young girls. If you listen to her music and watch her "walk her talk", common themes emerge like anti-bullying, helping others, and being yourself. She discovered her passion for writing songs when she was 10 and for singing when she was 2.
2. Claim Your Position & Purpose
What table are you trying to get a seat at? What is the change you want to drive? For Taylor she leverages her musical talent to engage with her fans and enable conversations on topics that she is passionate about and ones that her fans want to hear. Taylor once shared that artists are "raising the next generation, use your voice carefully". Her passion is music and ensuring that it is recognized as valuable and as art. Her purpose is about inclusion and helping others by sharing her experiences.
3. Understand Your Values and Beliefs
When we talk about beliefs and values, these are really the statements that make what your heart cares about (passion and purpose) into the thoughts that help influence your decisions. For example, Taylor has two core values & beliefs that she has shared: 1) In spite of success, remain the same person and 2) In spite of success, remain the same song writer. No matter the external influences, Taylor focuses on being true to herself. In addition, she owns her ability as a song writer and takes pride in it.
4. Be Gutsy and Take Risks
You may not know this, but Taylor went around when she was 11 in Nashville taking her demo album to the big record labels. No one was interested, although many thought she was cute. When she was "discovered" by Scott Borchetta at Bluebird Cafe, he had just left Universal. He asked Taylor to be his first album, a big risk for her, and she said yes. At the time he did not even know what his label was going to be called. Of course now we know it as Big Machine Records. Taylor was not afraid to take a risk and be gutsy when she was getting started.
5. Live Your Brand Consistently & Holistically (not just at work)
Taylor is very consistent with how she shows up personally. She shows up in interviews as quirky, fun, and authentic. Her identity is clear and consistent from how she dresses, to how she talks, and even being available to her fans.
Taylor shows up consistently professionally too. Recently she was very clear about her perspective on Spotify and why it led her to make the decision to pull her music. In her recent Time interview, Swift said she tried Spotify and “didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art,” she added. “I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify.
Community & World
Taylor Swift is very deliberate in constantly showing up and engaging her audience, fans, and those in need. You may remember her visits to children with cancer and spending time with them. You might also remember the amazing post she wrote to a fan about bullying when the fan reached out to her online. She was named top celebrity in 2013 by DoSomething.org because of her charitable giving.
6. Leverage Leadership & Brand Based Decision Making
Recently, when Taylor Swift moved to New York City, she decided to donate all the proceeds of her Welcome to New Your Song. In the New York Daily News, Taylor said:
“It’s selling really well — which is good, because I’m donating all of my proceeds to New York City public schools.” Swift was named the city’s Global Welcome ambassador for tourists this week.
This decision was a reflection of her brand and completely aligned with how she shows up consistently to her fans and community.
7. Be Present Constantly & Consistently
Taylor is fantastic at being visible and consistent on a regular basis, not just when she needs to be right before an album launch. The idea here is that you need to be visible for your audience constantly, you need to be where they are. Taylor is always visible on her terms - think of the fact that recently she has been on over 23 magazine covers. Although we are not all Taylor, we can intentionally be present.
8. Exhibit Ongoing Thought Leadership & Innovation
Taylor does this extremely well, whether it is launching new albums or launching new ways to engage her fans. One of the most recent examples was the release of the first ever music video app, which allowed fans to experience her recent hit Blank Space.
9. Remember Your Audience
Taylor is amazing at remembering her audience. In this video from the American Music Awards, she recognizes distinct audiences - honoring Dick Clark, celebrating Diana Ross, and saying thank you to her fans and reinforcing their impact on music. As leaders, it is important to think about your audience every time you go to use your voice to make an impact.
It is no surprise that Taylor is on the short list to beTime magazine's Person of the Year. Remember, your reputation is just as much about your audience as it is about you.
Be your best self,
author: Jen Dalton
Jen Dalton, CEO of BrandMirror, has over 15 years of experience in strategy, marketing and coaching. In 2012, she made a gutsy move into the entrepreneurship space, launching her branding business and became a certified brand strategist. She has spoken to and coached thousands of individuals and entrepreneurs about defining their brands and how to stand out. She is an international speaker and has worked with companies like IBM, Capital One, 1776, C-Lever, and more. Jen recently joined the Executive Coaching team at Georgetown University and works with their Executive MBA candidates.