Decision-Making Insights from Justin Bieber's Vocal Coach

Does 'meeting people where they are' factor into your decision-making?

In this video, Jan Smith, Grammy-nominated producer and vocal coach, shares insights she's learned on decision-making as a leader.

Entering the music industry as an artist, Jan did not consider that leadership was an key element in her role as producer and coach, until individuals within her realm of influence began to lean on her for leadership advice. From those moments, Jan realized several factors contributed to her decision-making as a leader.

First, Jan talks about meeting people where they are. People come onto teams and into organizations from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, with different values and talent.

When leaders understand the challenges, circumstances, and even opportunities that others have experienced, it provides them with the compassion to guide each member of their team with an acknowledgement that these dynamics exist.

Jan also reveals that honesty and truthfulness are essential when leading others. Individuals on teams desire to see vulnerability in their leaders and identify that leaders make mistakes just like everyone else. Admitting failures, fears or challenges allows individuals to connect with you as a leader and trust your guidance.

Discover these and more decision-making insights that Jan Smith learned through her leadership journey today on Leadercast.
I think it's a funny thing that people ask me now about leadership because running a studio and being known for what I do was not really my MO. I came into the industry as an artist. So becoming more aware of leadership skills and qualities that people have begun to say, "Hey, this is what we see in you," I think that meeting people where they are is so valuable as a leader because if you don't understand where other people are coming from, you can't really walk their walk or speak into their walk, whether you're walking it or not.

Being able to be honest with people about your own walk, one of the things that I've done with my clients is told them the truth. So there again, the truth works. But telling them about my own walk and my own shortcomings and not being afraid to say, "I've fallen from grace in my life too," allows them to relate to me as a human being and then they trust me more. So I think that being a good leader means not being afraid of your own shortcomings.

The other part of that is being able to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and move on. If you fall, you get up and you move on. You claim it and say, "Okay, this is what happened." If you make a mistake, you say, "I made a mistake," and then you clean up your mess and move on, being responsible for it and taking responsibility matters an awful lot, I think, so that you're not leaving a trail of debris.

Part of being Mama Jan means that when I am on tours and I'm a part of a team, other people lean on me as Mama too. That means when there's something that somebody needs to hear that other people don't want to tell them, I get elected to do that. The good news is I'm willing to do that because I understand how important that role is. A lot of times in the industry with people, they may not have had the parents that I had. You know what I'm saying? So being that voice of reason gets called on and it's an honor and a privilege for me to be able to do that.

One of the great situations that I was called in to speak into somebody's life was with Justin Bieber when we were on the "Never Say Never" tour. He was going through puberty. He was losing his voice. Most of that was a normal progression for him, but being thrown into a world tour and doing 86 shows worldwide, that was a lot of responsibility on those two little strips of fiber that sit in his neck.

So we had to shut a show down. We had to pull the plug on 17,000 tickets for the New York State Fair because the performance coming up the following weekend at Madison Square Garden was really more important. Helping him to understand the importance of that meant pulling the plug on one show now instead of one six or seven or so shows later if he got into worse trouble with his voice.

So I'm kind of famous in the Paramount movie for pulling the plug on that particular show and helping his as a young man to understand sometimes you have to say no, which is really hard for entertainers to understand anyway. But that's one of those times when you get called Mama.

So one of the things in our world and especially in the world of entertainment, everything is really fast. When you get hit by that freight train of success, it is fast and it's hard. It's hard for people to keep their balance. It's also about instant gratification. Everybody's on their phone and doing Twitter and Instagram. They make if faster and you've got to have Vine and you got to do all this stuff. That's what social media has done to our world. The bottom line is that real life doesn't happen like that. Sometimes it takes time and sometimes it's more of a marathon than a sprint.

So in the "Never Say Never" situation, it was about helping Justin understand that there are some things that are worth backing out of or backing off of so that tomorrow is better, teaching people that instant gratification works in some situations, but not always in life and it's about what is going to make you better tomorrow or the next week or the next year and also so that you can have longevity of what you do because careers and fame and fortune, man, it comes and goes. I've watched a lot of it come and go.

So helping those artists keep their balance therein and really understand, "Okay, this is just for right now. What can I do to ride this out?" is a whole lot more important than just doing it right this second.

Jan Smith

Jan Smith, dubbed Mama Jan by Usher, is the world’s premier vocal producer and instructor. She has over 26 years experience in the music industry as both an artist and a mentor. Mama Jan is a Grammy nominated producer and a Georgia Mu...

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