Leadership Lessons from Taylor Swift


By Molly Wood, SPHR, MAOL Senior HR Consultant, Certified Swifty

If you can’t watch a football game without hearing about Taylor Swift (even when she is not in attendance and her “love interest” is not playing), then what made you think you could get an HR newsletter free of Taylorisms??? The precedent, beyond trying to get this blog post to go viral, is that Taylor Swift is reported to do an excellent job of recognizing and rewarding her employees.

Taylor’s Eras tour has been highly praised and is expected to generate almost $1.5 billion in revenue. Few people would argue that Ms. Swift is a massively successful businessperson, and she is also a good boss. Taylor recognizes that the success of her tour is dependent upon her support staff. Swift reportedly gave bonuses totaling more than $55 million to those working on her show, including dancers, riggers, sound technicians, catering, and truckers.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, bonuses of $100,000 were shared with each of the 50 truck drivers who moved the equipment for her elaborate stage set-up. The founder and CEO of Shomotion trucking company said that their drivers typically get bonuses of $5,000 to $10,000 and that the amount was “unbelievable”, “generous”, and “life-changing”. Along with the check, Taylor included a handwritten note.

Money and thank you cards aren’t the only benefits of being employed by the pop icon. Swift is also described as being very professional and patient by a make-up artist who took five hours creating her look in her The Man video. After receiving her 2015 Emmy she celebrated the victory with her staff. At the conclusion of her 1989 World Tour, she took the staff and crew for a picnic on an island off Australia.

And Taylor cares about people in general. At the onset of the pandemic, Swift’s publicist asked the owners of a Nashville record store that Taylor used to frequent what direct relief she could provide. As a result, she ended up paying for three months of medical insurance for the store’s staff and families.

The lesson here is for business leaders to recognize that the success of the organization, and their own prosperity, is dependent on all those who contribute their time, energy, and talents to the work. While most businesses can’t afford to give six-figure bonuses, take their team to an exotic island retreat, or cover the living expenses of their employees, all leaders can express appreciation and recognition in a manner that is feasible for their circumstances.

If you would like to brainstorm ideas to show gratitude to your staff, SDEA’s consultants can help. Give us a call 858-505-0024. We are not just here for you, we are HeRe with you. #SDEA #gratitide #TaylorSwift #Erastour 😝

Contact us: 858.505.0024