Episode 187: Using Music to Unlock Your Leadership Potential with Susan Drumm

September 4, 2023

Meet my amazing guest, Susan Drumm! Susan is on a mission to inspire and guide leaders to heal what holds them back and help them develop the capacity and mindset to lead in today’s increasingly disruptive environment. She has personally coached billionaire CEOs, high-profile political figures, prominent Fortune 100 executive teams, and incredible entrepreneurs. She is CEO and Chief Empowerment Officer of her own firm, Meritage Leadership. She is also the host of the podcast and YouTube channel The Enlightened Executive, where she interviews founders and CEOs on the most cutting-edge programs, assessments, apps, and techniques for personal and leadership effectiveness. 

In the world of leadership development, innovative angles can often lead to transformative breakthroughs. In this enlightening episode, Susan opens up about her unique approach to leadership development—one that revolves around the profound influence of music. In her latest book, “The Leader’s Playlist,” Susan shares her journey from diverse career paths to the synthesis of her experiences into a remarkable method that uses music to shift deep-seated patterns, enhance emotional intelligence, and ultimately foster effective leadership. Join us as we delve into Susan’s insights on music, leadership, and the art of breaking free from limiting narratives.

Using Music to Unlock Your Leadership Potential with Susan Drumm 

Unearthing the Story

Susan kicks off the conversation by sharing her journey into the world of leadership development. Having ventured through careers in law, consulting, and acting, she found herself consistently drawn to the theme of leadership. Her diverse experiences contributed unique pieces that later formed the foundation of her leadership development work. 

Reframing Leadership with Music

In a world often dominated by standard leadership advice, Susan’s approach stands out. She underscores the power of music not just as a mood enhancer but as a transformative tool for addressing deep-seated patterns and limiting beliefs. She stumbled upon the idea during a particularly challenging period of her life, which led her to discover the potent role of music in healing and growth.

The Playlists of Leadership

Susan introduces the concept of “playlists” in leadership development, both figuratively and literally. Identifying one’s emotional patterns and the stories they evoke is the first step in the process. The journey then moves toward finding specific songs that evoke those emotions and using them as pattern interrupters. These pattern interrupters are used to shift old neural pathways and replace them with new ones that align with desired emotional states and leadership qualities.

Patterns in Leadership

Susan believes there are common patterns that leaders often find themselves trapped in. One notable pattern is the belief of “I’m all alone,” which hampers delegation and collaboration. Another is the feeling of “I’m not good enough,” which can undermine confidence and decision-making. Recognizing these patterns is pivotal to breaking free from them and fostering effective leadership.

The Journey of Transformation

One of Susan’s many success stories includes a chief marketing officer named Deborah. Deborah struggled with feeling unwelcome and isolated, which affected her professional relationships and opportunities. Susan guided Deborah through the process of identifying the emotions tied to her pattern, selecting pattern interrupter songs, and cultivating a new playlist that aligned with feelings of being welcomed. The result was a transformative shift in Deborah’s relationships and interactions, demonstrating the tangible impact of the playlist approach.

Leadership’s Internal and External Dance

There is a symbiotic relationship between internal and external aspects of leadership. While strategies are essential, they must be underpinned by internal growth and transformation. If we outpace ourselves without addressing internal patterns, it results in a lack of scalability and fulfillment. Leadership success requires aligning both external strategies and internal growth.

Music, Leadership, and the Art of Breaking Free

In a world where traditional leadership models often fall short, Susan Drum offers a refreshing and impactful approach to leadership development. Through the innovative use of music, introspection, emotional intelligence, and transformation you can fuel effective leadership. By shifting old patterns and adopting new narratives, leaders can not only improve their own well-being but also create more harmonious and impactful work environments. As Susan’s journey illustrates, the symphony of leadership is complex, nuanced, and beautifully transformative.


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