Frank Sinatra’s Ultra Leadership Lessons

December 12th was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frank Sinatra. I’m a huge fan of Frank Sinatra. I’ve been listening to his music for years. I love the songs. I love the voice. Most of all I love the attitude.

I remember stories I’ve heard about the original “Ocean’s 11.” Filming in Las Vegas, Frank and company (Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford) would be on set during the day and then perform at the Sands Hotel in the evening. Sometimes, the sign in front of the Sands simply said, “The Summit” because Frank and the “Rat Pack” called their performances their “summit meetings.”

As I reflect on those performances I see three important characteristics that can inform our work as leaders. First, their level of performance was high. Delivering excellence was the only option they considered. This is a characteristic shared by every great leader I’ve worked with.

Second, they got extraordinary fulfillment from what they were doing. The experience was important to them – “Let’s have a good time along the way.” I think the audience was just lucky to be in the room, but they weren’t very necessary to the proceedings. The best leaders always think of the team’s shared experience of working together as well as the results they are striving for.

Third, to get to that level of performance and fulfillment they were always willing to go to the edge and push the limits.  Like Frank and his friends, the best leaders go beyond usual and ordinary. They are willing to go to the edge and push farther over and over again. The drive for continuous improvement was in their DNA.

When these three things intersect – high performance, high fulfillment, and a willingness to go to the edge – watch what happens! Some people call it the zone or working with flow. I prefer to think of it as being at “The Summit.” As leaders we need to find our own Summit. Anything less is a waste of resources. What are we especially good at? What work brings us fulfillment? Where and how do these overlap? Where is our edge? How willing are we to push the limits to get to our Summit? These questions should be informing how we live, work and lead all the time.

We all have a Summit, a place where our high performance intersects with extraordinary fulfillment if only we are willing to go to the edge and push the limits in order to get there. We have a right and a responsibility to find our Summit and live and work from there. It might require some modest adjustments to our status quo. It might require radical change. Whichever the case may be, we have to own our reality and go for it.

What about you? Where is your “Summit?”

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Categories: Leadership.