Leadership Lessons from Led Zeppelin

Even if you aren’t a fan of Led Zeppelin, you have to admit they are one of the most enduring rock bands of all time. From the unique voice and folksy style of Robert Plant to the Bluesy guitar rifts of Jimmy Page, the bass rhythm of John Paul Jones to the crashing cymbals and drums of John Bonham, the band was a conglomeration of talent and seemingly incompatible styles. Legend has it that Keith Moon, the drummer from the rock back, The Who, gave the band it’s name when he joked that the band would go over like a Lead Zeppelin (or blimp).

In truth, the band was not an instant success. Here are some excerpts from Rolling Stone magazine when they reviewed their debut album: Jimmy Page is “a very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs“. Robert Plant’s singing was described as “strained and unconvincing shouting” and his stage presence as “foppish as Rod Steward, but nowhere near so exciting“. I’m not sure what foppish is, but you get the gist. Despite the critics, the band created a style of music all their own and through an outpouring of creativity in the studio and in concerts, they reached the status of music legends. Fifty years after they were written, their songs are still played throughout the world from high school dances to soundtracks for movies. Having recently revisited the music of Led Zeppelin, here are some of the lessons that stood out to me:

Be true to yourself: If they had listened to the critics and the logic of the day, they would have probably “blended” their talents a little more. In many of their songs, their is no lead to follow. Robert Plant is singing in his high pitched wail that only he can do, Jimmy Page is alternating from classical guitar to hard rocking jams, and John Bonham’s drums are pounding away like a jackhammer. Everyone is focused on their part and yet, it all works together. It’s a level of synergy that most groups never achieve.

Be original: As stated before, I would be hard pressed to label their style of music. Read any review of their work and it is almost always is a blend of various music styles and compositions. Blues and Heavy Metal, Folk and Classical, whimsical and profound. It’s all over the place and just like the creators, very unique.

Be brave: I shared one bad review from Rolling Stone magazine, but there were many! Keith Moon was right in his prediction of the Lead Zeppelin effect. Bad reviews and controlling record companies didn’t detour them from following their creative vision for the band. In fact, in an effort to make things a little difficult for the record companies and music reviewers, they decided not to name their fourth album. It’s usually referred to as Led Zeppelin 4, but like the Beatles had done several years before with the “White Albums” they never bestowed a name on what would become to many, their greatest album.

Now I’m not saying that being true to yourself, being original, and being brave will assure that you succeed in making your dreams a reality. But I can assure you that not doing these things will keep you from greatness and worse yet, keep you from reaching your dreams. So if you need some inspiration to be a little different, do what I do and put on some Led Zeppelin!




“Led Zeppelin was an affair of the heart. Each of the members were important to the sum total of what we were.” – Jimmy Page

“I would like to find a way to embrace what Led Zeppelin did, in film making.” – Nicholas Cage

“Led Zeppelin isn’t done yet, because every year since 1968 there’s been new fans.” 



  • Monday, January 29: Student of the Month Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM, iReady Window Opens
  • Tuesday, January 30: REED for MB (Ringler) 8:15 AM, REED for homebound student 9:30 AM
  • Wednesday, January 31: Jon out in AM for Leadership Presentation in Detroit
  • Thursday, February 1: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM (Katie Taylor presenting on Differentiated Instruction) Emily A. (first grade student) will be “Principal for the Day” & help me with my duties throughout the day!
  • Friday, February 2: VIP Dance at Riley Upper Elementary 6:30-8:30 PM


  • Monday, February 5: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, February 6: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 7: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 8: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM


1 thought on “Leadership Lessons from Led Zeppelin

  1. Jon, great reminders. While these three things sound simple, they can be quite hard. At times when you might not be getting “great feedback,” it can be easy to want to please others. The video of the kids listening made my morning. So cute. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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