#25 Rap Lyric that has Shaped my Leadership Style

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 thoughts on “#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).

  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! 😉

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