This week I will attend my 12th U2 concert – yes, 12th. There is no doubt I am a huge fan and have been for the past 20 years so, of course, I love their music. Anytime they tour, I make a point to attend at least one show (usually two and sometimes more…). Despite the fact that I love their music, my respect for them as a well-oiled organization and for the band leader, Bono, as an purposeful leader, also fuels my interest.
Having been a fan for the past 20 years, I have always admired U2’s ability to consistently evolve and push their musical limits with each new album and each new tour. In the late 90‘s, they even evolved to the point of what seemed to be “going off track”; yet, that was never really the case. They always remained true to their brand and their purpose.
It would seem that their purpose, as a band, has been to create great music for their fans and that is true; however, it is also much more than that. Under Bono’s leadership, their purpose was also to raise global awareness around such issues as poverty and disease in Africa. The interest in these issues arose back in the mid 80’s (before U2 got really big) when Bono and his wife went to Ethiopia to work at a feeding station. It was then that this “purpose” began to take shape. It continued to grow and gain momentum as U2 gained momentum.
Through creating fundraising groups and political advocacy organizations, Bono has kept this awareness alive for more than 20 years and continues to make a huge difference in raising awareness and providing relief in these areas of hunger and disease in underdeveloped countries. I believe that Bono has been quite strategic in how he created and sustained the global awareness for these issues. He used his rock star status to make a difference. With the “U2” brand behind him, he was able to arrange meetings with political and religious leaders all over the world and gain support (both financial and cultural) for his causes. He used his talents and the success of U2 to make a difference in the world. As an organization, U2 supported these causes and, in my opinion, they have become linked with U2’s brand.
Of course, all of us are not rock stars, but we all have the ability to fight for a cause we believe in with enough passion so that people take notice. We all have a purpose for which we feel strongly about and, as leaders, can use some of the great examples set by Bono and all the members of U2 on how to integrate this purpose into our leadership style and our personal brands.