How Empowerment Encourages Leadership



For the past six years I have been involved with the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and their annual awards show and music festival. In 2014 I performed an Event 360°Analysis. The analysis is intended to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses as well as operational delivery of their workforce, event, or organization. The multi-source feedback loop was solicited from the Academy’s work circle; including permanent staff, contract staff and volunteers.  The goal of the assessment was to gather information on events managed by the Academy and seek ways to improve and scale the supporting programs and design for fall on years of the event(s). 

The results of this 360-degree evaluation were used to plan and map specific paths in the development of the Volunteer Crew Program as well as the project planning approach for subsequent years.  Results were also used to make administrative decisions.  There is substantial history of 360° evaluations use as a proactive method to initiate improvement; for example the German military first began gathering feedback from multiple sources in order to evaluate performance during World War II.

This year I saw the full implementation of the Volunteer Crew Program organizational structure that stemmed from the 360° Analysis. With a volunteer workforce of over 120 the Workforce Manager needed to have a supportive structure in place led by capable, motivated, individuals. It is unrealistic to think that one person can attend to the needs and questions of over 120 people at any time, never mind a compressed event schedule.  It was incredibly gratifying to see the system work. What was more gratifying was to see the chosen Crew Leads take a hold of their area, their teams, and their responsibilities.

So what made that all work the way it was intended?
The ACM Workforce Manager did a few key things that set the program in motion and in my opinion, created the opportunity for it to be successful. First thing was she picked good people to be Crew Leads, second thing was she provided them with the tools, resources, and support they needed to do the job they were asked to do. Third – she had her own Second in Command (2IC) at each of the two venues so she could manage immediate requests and deal with unforeseen issues or challenges without affecting the overall event operations. Fourth – she let people do their jobs, and finally, fifth – she was available and responsive.


There were chaotic moments and bumpy parts, but all of those things teach us what we can do better for next year. The volunteer workforce program supports the festival’s mission to raise funds for their Lifting Lives Foundation. Meaning, all of the people who volunteer or reduce their rates contribute to the greater good of this goal for the Academy. It all adds up to a pretty fantastic cause from which a community is built.
The one thing that resonated with me was how simply things can become when you hire good people, invest the time up front to prepare for them, support them and then let them do their jobs. This is absolutely applicable to everyday business and corporate management. This is a great example of solid leadership.

1. Hire the capable.
2. Help them understand become clear on their role and responsibilities.
3. Align their role with the company, event, or organization’s mission.
4. Give them the tools, resources, and support they need to do the job you have asked them to do.
5. Let them do their job, but remain available.
6. Cheer them on – out loud, publically.
7. Celebrate a job well done.
8. Then sit back and enjoy the view of a group of people working together for the greater good of the greater whole.

Bravo team ACM.
See y’all in 2017.
** Forward Moving Fact – Four of the five leads were women, and both 2ICs were also women supporting a woman Workforce Manager.  Good on the ACMs for supporting women leaders. #GirlPower

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