Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga's Social Studies

When I was a little girl and my brothers or I were behaving badly, my mother used to warn us not to be little monsters.

Little did I know, years later, that I would proudly accept that title - and recommend it to as many others as possible.

Because now, if you're a "little monster" it means that you're part of Lady Gaga's fan base - which is the same as being part of a social movement.

Lady Gaga has no hesitation in using her celebrity to do good. Of course she does well. In fact, she does amazingly well with sales that keep setting records. Good for her. Because she uses her nearly 11 million Twitter followers and all her fans worldwide as a means of moving society in a more tolerant, caring direction.

I knew of Lady Gaga, simply, as a pop music icon who was so much a part of a different generation than mine that she was barely a blip on my radar. Right up until she used her celebrity to support the repeal of the "Don't Ask. Don't Tell" legislation that was then being reviewed by Congress.

Using her celebrity specifically to speak on behalf of an underserved and still actively discriminated against population - no matter what the cause - made her different from her colleagues and contemporaries. More courageous. More willing to use her success to do good.

More recently, with her record-breaking "Born This Way" song and album, she has escalated that philosophy by making sure that her "little monsters" all know that they are perfect. That they need not feel disenfranchised - because they're not a mistake.

That they can - and should - live their lives proudly.

In a world where bullying in schools has taken peer pressure to new heights, that's a message that neither can nor should be ignored.

Then, when Clarence Clemons, the 69-year old saxophonist from Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band who performed with Gaga on her new album, suffered a sudden - and ultimately fatal - stroke, she mobilized her troops to help in his recovery by making and sending get well videos.

Think about it. Here's a 25-year old superstar who is getting her worldwide fan base which start in their 'tweens, if not younger, to pay attention to and help a senior citizen. That's so good on so many different levels it almost defies description.

Lady Gaga gets a lot of grief for her supposed mimicry of Madonna. The pundits who keep putting that forward are wrong. Because what Lady Gaga has known from the first and Madonna never demonstrated is that there is a beauty in doing well and doing good simultaneously.

In these troubled economic times - particularly when investment in education is being severely reduced across the country - it's even more important that those who have celebrity recognize that they have a responsibility that comes with their success to support a greater good.

So, monster paws up, everybody, because we're all Little Monsters now.

(An earlier version of this article appeared on Technorati.)

The Anti-Fear Motivation: the Lessons of Lady Gaga and the Dixie Chicks

"A little bit of fear is a good thing."

That comment is neither new nor novel.  But, whether you're talking the "War on Terror" or creating corporate sales, it has become a staple for ostensible motivation - whether of your employees or society as a whole.

It's a sorry state when it's the voices of pop and country stars - from yesterday's Dixie Chicks anti-war comments to today's Lady Gaga rallying her audience to peacefully protest Arizona's SB1070 - are not only needed but simultaneously vilified for trying to remove fear from the equation.

Because, while fear may create a short term win, it decimates long term success.

My first time hearing the statement in a corporate setting was from a senior Sales executive in a division of a Big Pharma organization.

His problem?  His sales force wasn't making its numbers and that was knocking his bonus off track.  His solution? "Motivate" his sales force by making clear that they needed to make their numbers or they could lose their jobs.  Be summarily dismissed.  Be walked out the door.  Have their Blackberries confiscated.

Possibly.  But not absolutely.  (Because that would have been against both the law and corporate policy.)

So, what they needed to do was make sure that they didn't get themselves into that position by performing. That's all.  Just sell the product.  Go team!

And they did.  They made the numbers he needed - in volume.  But to get there, they cut deals with their customers that did more financial damage to that division than anyone had ever seen before.

But our smiling executive got his numbers.  And his bonus.  Until he lost his job - and deservedly so.  (The division was later spun off as a stand-alone company.)

Fear is a despicable strategy.  It works against any organization's long-term goals simply to fulfill an individual's short-term needs.  It is, in fact, the tactic of cowards.

There is too much research on empowerment and the importance of collaboration to innovation, improved operations and financial success to ignore.  And, consistently, within that research, we find that the more that executives create a culture without fear, the more successful - and sustainable - their organization is.

That doesn't mean that you don't or can't tell employees the truth.  You have to tell them the truth - whether things are going well or not.

That's why there is such a sense of betrayal even by employees today who have jobs.  They've given in on everything from salary increases to cutting their hours and, as a result, their ability to financially sustain themselves, because their executives told them that the company would go bust if they didn't.

So they took the hit - and now they're seeing those companies' profits soar.  Yet their salaries and hours aren't improving.

Because those executives are still maintaining that things could go wrong.  There might be a double-dip recession.  Consumer confidence isn't what it needs to be.  While they're taking their bonuses.

You can't have it both ways and win.

Remember, your people really are your most valuable asset.  They are the ones who know how to make things happen in your organization.  They are the ones that work within the effective and ineffective systems by which your organization works.

They are not easily replaceable - even in a downturn.  Nor by contracting.  Because when your people walk out the door, they take all their knowledge and experience with them.  And they bring it to your competitors.

So, small business or large.  Entrepreneurial venture or legacy organization.  Across sectors and industries, pay attention and don't make the core long-term mistake that can make or break your company.

Fear is a bad thing.  If you see it being perpetuated in your enterprise, get rid of the person who's doing so - because that person's goals are not the same as yours.  At least not if you want to keep your job - and your organization - for long.

That's not fear-mongering.  That's fact.
For more on how to create a High Quality culture and bring innovation to your organization, click here.