The art of leadership begins with figuring out what inspires the people you lead – what buttons ignite their passions, what chords touch their souls.

School of Rock CEO Chris Catalano believes that “music is fundamentally a part of the human soul, it is the universal language of mankind.” In an interview, he told me that his schools’ performance-based approach can inspire students and change peoples’ lives.

The importance of leaders going beyond mere words to meaning and emotion cannot be underestimated. Make sure your stakeholders understand and embrace the sub-text of your true feelings and desires to imbue in them a passion for purpose that they can share with others as Charley Shimanski did at the Red Cross.


Competitive Positioning

School of Rock offers a “performance-based approach to music lessons” as the antidote to the traditional broken way of teaching that makes people hate music lessons even when they love playing.

At another level, School of Rock’s approach is instilling teamwork and self-confidence in line with its mission to “Inspire the world to rock on stage and in life.

Catalano calls his franchisees to “become the music in your community.” As more and more school districts are cutting in-school music programs, communities need someone else to step in and provide the music education that fosters the next generation of great artists.

Separately, shoppers are increasingly using retail stores as showrooms to experience products before going home to purchase them at the cheapest price on the Internet. Unlike products, many services cannot be easily delivered online, therefore, creating opportunities for brick and mortar retailers. When it comes to music, the primary value-adding service is instruction – like that provided by the School of Rock.


Route to Success

The most successful School of Rock franchisees deploy a three-step process to get started:

  1. Engage neighbors.  Embracing your community and engaging with your neighbors ensures that School of Rock becomes the trusted source for music education. The result is creating a community within a community.
  1. Find artists. School of Rock is driven to inspire the world one community at a time and that is far better done by musicians who know how to engage an audience and bring a stage to life. It is these musicians who “live to play and play to live” that are highly sought after by School of Rock owners.
  1. Make it your place. Of course School of Rock has an extensive “brand book” and specific guidelines. But, successful operators blend the School of Rock branding with designs that reflect their neighborhood. The result is that when you walk into a School of Rock, you know you are in a School of Rock, but the unique “club-like feel” gives each location its own personality.


Implications For All Leaders

There are benefits to applying this thinking to your organization:

  • Engage your community to identify all the touch points for your customers and other stakeholders and the people influencing them so you can become an integral part of the community
  • Find artists. Who are your artists? Find them so they can imbue passion in your purpose amongst all your stakeholders. Don’t settle for less
  • Make your place a place where people want to be. Your environment is an essential part of a BRAVE culture.