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Learning to Lead from Mumford & Sons

How a British bluegrass band demonstrated effective institutional leadership.

Preparing for a concert by Mumford & Sons, the British "new grass" quartet, I expected the roof to come down. These guys' glory is that they pick the banjo and smash the bass and stomp the floor like an Appalachian dance hall band rather than a group of west London lads. I even expected a spiritual experience: few musicians, secular or sacred, sing about God with such depth of spirituality without saccharine piety. I'd heard their concerts are like church – just a whole lot better.

I expected all that. I didn't expect a lesson in institutional leadership.

First, Mumford & Sons honored us as an audience. We've all seen bands that look put out to be performing for us, even though we paid through the nose to be there. Mumford repeatedly not only thanked us – they were almost giddy with the size of the audience at the Asheville Civic Center. They said we were the largest venue they'd ever headlined (they've opened for others in far ...

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