Making Tough Decisions: Leadership Lessons From the Justin Bieber Tour

What is your leadership style when making tough decisions?


Grammy-nominated producer and vocal coach to celebrity artists including Justin Bieber, Usher, The Band Perry, Rob Thomas and dozens of other chart-topping artists, Jan Smith, also known as "Mama Jan," discusses making decisions in difficult situations. 

In this video, Jan addresses the tough situation as seen in the movie, Never Say Never. When Justin begins to lose his voice on tour, his team faced choices would have significant impact to fans, sponsors, venues, vendors and Justin himself. Watch the video to learn how she handled the situation.

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, and a lot of times in the industry people may not have had the parents that I had. Do 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, whom we were on the "Never Say Never" tour. He was going through puberty. He was losing his voice. And 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. And helping him to understand the importance of that meant pulling the plug on one show now instead of on six or seven 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 him as a young man to understand sometimes you have to say no, which is really hard for entertainers to do anyway. That's one of those times when you get called. "Call Mama."

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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