Common traits among successful leaders often include their commitment to fill needs and accomplish goals. Widely considered the father of hip-hop, Russell Simmons embodies those qualities. He co-founded Def Jam Records, which has signed artists like the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. He later banked $100 million by selling Def Jam to Universal Music Group (Biography). He didn’t stop there. In addition to founding companies like Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics, Russell Simmons is also a successful author, most famously known for Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success. An igniter of a musical genre, a business founder and a successful author, Russell Simmons is a leader who can teach the world a thing or two.
Leader Qualities of Russell Simmons:
- Emotional Intelligence – There is no doubt that Simmons has strong emotional intelligence. When he speaks about working with artists and executives, he emphasizes the importance of making sure everyone is happy in a deal (Harvard Business Review). In addition, when asked about his business success, Simmons has explained that he founds businesses based on existing needs. He is able to fill these needs by being attuned to them in the first place, which is an indicator of emotional intelligence.
- Positive Attitude – Simmons has advocated that a positive attitude, passion and openness to wealth – both spiritual and material – are some of the qualities needed for entrepreneurial success (CNN). His positive attitude is certainly transparent in his interviews and historically. When asked about his success working with artists, he explains “People want to write for us because we’re positive.” (Entrepreneur).
- Team Value – It’s not uncommon for a leader to feel like they’re on a solo mission, or like they can’t trust others to get the job done. Simmons doesn’t have that problem. He repeatedly mentions how fortunate he is to work with creative and talented people. One of his popular quotes goes like this “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you” (Brainy Quote). The ability to recognize team value is typically found in impactful leaders, and Simmons is no different.
Every potential future Russell Simmons would do well to keep these qualities in mind as they move through life. It takes being aware of emotions, understanding the needs of others, a positive attitude and an appreciation for teams to be a successful leader.