Elizabeth Long Lingo spent seven years studying Nashville music producers to understand their entrepreneurial leadership strategies, so it was probably inevitable that at some point she would try her hand at what she was watching.
The assistant professor in the Foisie Business School wrote the song “’til Quitting Time” about a waitress, found aspiring artists and musicians to record it, and produced a demo track that … did not become a hit.
“Obviously, I am not a songwriter,” she says with a laugh, “but my research is all about experiences, and I can’t write about something until I’ve done it.”
What Long Lingo learned from her experience has helped inform her research into a style of entrepreneurial leadership that she calls “creative brokering”—a way of mobilizing and directing teams of creative experts with competing viewpoints to produce something novel and of value. It’s a model of leadership she says can be used to produce success in industries other than country music.
“The process music producers use to manage tensions, help team members stay committed, and elicit expertise and input from stakeholders relies on emotional intelligence,” says Long Lingo, who is an expert on negotiation and organizational behavior. “Once you understand how music producers successfully manage people with different talents and opinions to create songs, you can apply the insights and techniques to other industries.”
An article on her research appeared in the Journal of Management Studies in March.
The classic view of an entrepreneur is of the individual genius who generates and drives ideas, but this view misses the important role of synthesizing ideas and negotiating with expert team members to develop an integrated, implementable outcome, Long Lingo says.
“You can be a leader who has an idea and tells creative people what to do, but that type of entrepreneurial leadership rarely works,” she says. “Another type of creative leadership involves facilitating other people's creativity. But there’s a third way, a type of integrative creative leadership in which the leader has their own vision but must also co-create and negotiate with a network of experts to bring everything together.”