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#25 Rap Lyric that has Shaped my Leadership Style

Feb 10

I have a little secret I need to share with you all:  I grew up in the hood.  Not the South Central/Cabrini Green/Hell’s Kitchen hood – but it wasn’t the milky white suburban existence my kids are growing up in right now!  On my 2 mile walk to school (we couldn’t afford busing) I passed a General Motors Metal Fab Plant, crossed a bridge over a 6 lane highway (if we were late we would just run across the highway instead of walking to cross at the bridge) and at least one flea-bag hotel where you could buy your drug or woman of choice.   So, as far as white people go – it was as close to a hood as I wanted to be in!

Being that I’m so street – I grew up listening to rap music, and to this day, still do.  My oldest son is now 15, and to his mother’s shagrin, he also is a listener to rap music.  To me rap music was like poetry, the creativity it took to write and rhyme lyrics from a street perspective always captivated me.  Most people don’t “listen” to rap, they “hear” rap – and it doesn’t connect with them.  The stories and lessons of songs connected with me.

As I look back on 30 years of listening to rap music, I’ve come to realize I take a ton of my leadership style from the music that shaped me growing up. So, since this is my blog, I’m starting a new weekly series for 2012 – the 25 Rap Lyrics That Have Shaped My Leadership Style.

This weeks Lyric:

Tupac – I Ain’t Mad At Cha

“Change, shit
I guess change is good for any of us
Whatever it take for any of y’all niggaz to get up out the hood
Shit, I’m wit cha, I ain’t mad at cha
Got nuttin but love for ya, do your thing boy”

When I first started my HR career I would get so upset over people who decided to leave the organization I was with – and I saw that most of the leadership responded the same way!  If someone decided to leave “us” – we would virtually tear your shirt – that person was “dead” to the organization.  Years later the person would want to come back, and they wouldn’t be able to because they were “black-balled” from the company.  I’m sure many of your organizations are that way today.

I had a good HR mentor at one of my HR stops that got me to look at this in a new way, and the Tupac lyric makes me remember this learning.  People leave for all kinds of reasons, and even sometimes you want people to leave your organization – that doesn’t mean that a year or two or three, later – they wouldn’t be the perfect fit to come back.  When a good performer makes the decision to leave my organization now, I ask if there is anything I can do to help in their transition (after I try to talk them into staying).  I try and make it easy for them, because I know it was a tough decision for them, I don’t need to make it tougher.  It’s a small world and I try and have strong relationships that will outlast a job change or two.  If I have a good relationship with a good person – there is a good chance I will want to work with that person again in the future.

I ain’t mad at cha – got nothin but love for ya.

14 Comment to “#25 Rap Lyric that has Shaped my Leadership Style”

  1. My take away from my former VP is simple: is this hire going to be here 5, 7, or 10 years. I was shocked when she asked me this question, but now I understand. No one in the 21st century will hire on and stay there for 35 years and get the gold watch. That is simply not an option. And with 8000 Baby Boomers A DAY turned 65 years of age–we are just seeing the tip of iceberg in terms of turn-over. Tho’ I concur with the last paragraph–we also have to look at the bottom line and one lesson I learned early on was that cost every time there is a turnover in employment is somewhere between $100K and $150K. . .(attributed to the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC).

    May 16, 2012
  2. Awesome post and list, Tim! I’ve always said my understanding and application of hood logic and rules are a big part of what make me a good HR person. Thanks for proving my theory right. way to represent! 😉

    Mar 30, 2012
  3. Quick question will lines from “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy” or “Bit*h Betta Have my Money” make the cut?

    Feb 10, 2012

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