Four front line leadership lessons from Miles Davis

Who says TikTok is an incredible time-suck that just harvests all of our personal data, anyway?

Okay, since we agree, let me tell you about an interview I saw on TikTok with music legend Herbie Hancock, who played with the incomparable Miles Davis.

From that interview and a little additional research, I picked up some inspiring advice to share with you:

  1. Davis pushed his team to step out of their comfort zones

Per Herbie Hancock: “(Miles) said ‘I don’t pay you to just play to get applause.’ He told us he paid us to experiment on stage. He said: ‘I want you to try new things, brand new stuff.’”

2. As he pushed his players, he assured their safety

Hancock continued: “I told him, what about the audience then? He said ‘Don’t worry about it. I got the audience.’”

3. Davis found ways to take what seemed wrong and make it fit in and seem right

Hancock spoke of making a mistake, playing the wrong chord, and in response Davis “played some notes that made my chord right…. Miles didn’t hear it as a mistake. He heard it as… part of the reality of what was happening at that moment. And he dealt with it”

4. Davis realized that the response can be more important than the event itself

According to Davis, “When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if it’s good or bad.”

I’m not a bad musician myself… I’m not a musician at all. But I recognize wisdom when I hear it, even from another era or another area of expertise.

Let’s learn from these geniuses. What do you think?