Leadership Beatles’ Style


“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs


I’ll never forget being at a Wings concert in Seattle when someone referred to the Beatles as Paul McCartney’s first backup band.  For someone who grew up listening to the early Beatles, it was astonishing.  They thought McCartney was the “front man” for the Beatles.

But let’s get past that ill-advised perspective of musical history to look at Steve Job’s idea that they were his business model.

John wrote the rock music, Paul wrote the pop music, George wrote the “deep thinking” music and Ringo just wrote fun music.  Ultimately they went their way as solo acts, but in their most creative and influential time together, they worked to each other’s strengths and controlled each other’s weakness.  Everyone got at least a track or two on the albums, and in concert they played each other’s songs.  More importantly, they seemed to respect each other’s strengths. They were a team, and the four together were larger than their individual careers.

Above all, they respected the differences in each other, and shared in each other’s strengths.

Unfortunately some of today’s key executives think they wrote all the songs of their organization’s music, and everyone else is part of the backup band. Everyone else in the executive band is some sort of problem.  If they’re Steve Jobs fans they selectively pick the ones that are egotistical, and ignore all the times he talked about a team.

It seems to me the Beatles not only accomplished more in their team era than their solo era, but also that they were happier.  That’s reflected in their movies “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” Too bad some execs just aren’t team players.

What does it look like at your organization?  Is the executive team from the Beatles era or the Wings/Plastic Ono Band era?




Alan Mason

About Alan Mason

Alan is an active contributor to the industry, featured speaker at conventions, published in trade magazines and publishes Mason's Morning Minute.

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