I, along with about 14 million other viewers tuned in to watch the home-going service for superstar music and film icon, Whitney Houston. Originally, the telecast was scheduled to be just two hours. However it took twice as long to bid farewell to Whitney. It’s no wonder as she was no ordinary woman. Her mark in history is timeless. Whitney left musical accolades and awards touting her musical magic that have yet to be broken. Her mark was evident by the many family, friends, fans, and industry icons that showed up to bid a final farewell to this extraordinary person who touched their lives.
As I sat for the four hour journey and reflected on it hours later, I looked at her final farewell as a lesson in leadership principles for not only me but for others like me.
Here’s how Whitney Houston’s Legacy teaches us about leadership:
1. Have Fun – Most of the pictures we see of Whitney show off her dazzling and smiling personality. She exuded fun and fancifulness. Indeed, many at the home-going service commented on her smile and fun-loving ways. She drew you to her and seemed not to take the unnecessary too serious. The story that brought smiles was the one shared by BeBe & CeCe Winans. They affectionately called her "the Crazy Whitney". They shared memories of embarking on their first tour and Whitney offering to sing back up for them. When they protested, reminding Whitney of all that she had accomplished, she had a little talk with them. “You’re broke right? I’m rich right? After laughing hysterically, she reminded them that she could do this for them, her family.
Being in business is a serious undertaking however it should be sprinkled with a fair dose of fun. All work and no play…. It will make the journey much more rewarding.
2. Humility – Countless people have commented on how Whitney always gave praise and honor to God for any favor she received. She was humbled by the highs and the lows of her journey. Never taking what she had or attained for granted, she was first to comment, “by the grace of God”.
When in business, this is a lesson we must remember. Whatever successes that come our way are not solely of our own making. There are many to thank as none of us can do it alone. Remembering that will help us to note that we aren’t in this alone.
3. Mentorship – Whitney made it a point to reach back to those coming up in the ranks. Younger artists such as Jordan Sparks, Alicia Keys, Monica and Brandy have all been personally touched by Whitney and connected with her in ways that helped mentor them in the music industry. Alicia Keys did a heart-felt rendition of Send Me an Angel to signify what Whitney meant to her.
In life as in business, mentorship is important. Not only is it flattering to be asked, it is also fulfilling to give. Look for ways to encourage and mentor those coming in your footsteps. Imagine the difference you can make not only in your life but in those you touch.
4. Professionalism – Whitney was a consummate professional. She understood her strengths and was uncomfortable with doing anything less than her best. Actor and director Kevin Costner talked passionately about his decision to cast Whitney in the role of Rachel Marin in the classic, The Bodyguard. Whitney doubted herself and her ability in be memorable in the role, but in true Whitney fashion, she delivered and did so in a big way. Passionate about her craft, Whitney only wanted to put out the best. As evident in the legacy she left behind, she did just that.
As a business s professional, we should always be conscious of putting out best foot forward. Our professionalism should be evident in our customer service all the way through to our delivery of products or services.
5. Self-Assessment – Clive Davis said it best. In one of his last conversations with her, she assured him that she was working on herself. She understood that her mind, body and heart needed nurturing in order to bring about the best product. Whitney told Clive that she would be working on herself and would be back in stride by this coming August. Whitney considered him her industry father and loved him very much. Without a doubt, she knew he loved and adored her and had nothing but the best intentions for her. Whitney rose to the occasion and was taking stock of herself to make positive changes in her life.
In business, we can use Clive and Whitney’s relationship as a blueprint to build a better business. Surround yourself with people who can help you look at your company and offer useful suggestions and methods to make it stronger in the marketplace. Tough love!
6. Selflessness – There is no reason to expound on this. Whitney was a giver. She gave to her fans, to her family, and to her friends. Recognizing what is important in like, she unselfishly gave to us even though many times it caused her challenges in her life.
In business, we should understand that it can’t just be about our success. A closed hand can’t receive. So be open and give generously. The rewards are immeasurable.
ENJOY WHITNEY'S RENDITION OF THE "STAR SPANGLED BANNER"