Leadership Development Through Music

We, as humans, are very good at holding on to the past. It’s like a song on repeat that just wouldn’t go away. And these could be thoughts, beliefs, or habits that might be holding us back. These patterns can get in your way, influencing your leadership and your life. Ready to change the tune & create a new playlist?

Ashish and I discuss this topic at the HAPPINESS SQUAD podcast, together with Susan Drumm, CEO at Meritage Leadership Development. In our conversation with Susan, we discussed the profound impact of childhood experiences on our leadership development. We delved deeper to understand how music can interrupt old beliefs of ‘old patterns’, and the role of self-awareness in rewiring our leadership styles. Let’s delve into this across three key areas:

  • How Music Shapes Leadership and Breaks Old Patterns
  • Making Peace with Your Inner Critic
  • Leading with Self-Awareness

“Happiness is when you lose psychological time because you’re so present in the moment and you’re so focused on what you’re doing..”

Susan Drumm

How Music Shapes Leadership and Breaks Old Patterns

In life, we all have challenges and negative experiences during our childhood that shape our perceptions of the world and our role within it. Our behaviors and reactions are often filtered through the lens of past experiences. This is why most of us have triggers, that brings back these painful memories, and causes us to lash out. Before we can all flourish, we must learn how to conquer these feelings.

“When something triggers us, we have a tendency to use words that don’t serve us rather paralyzes us. The only way to break free from that is by cultivating awareness.”

Anil Ramjiani

However, in the interest of leadership development, Susan believes music can help break these old patterns. As it reaches deep parts of our brain, music has a powerful impact to prime our neurological landscape, enabling new neural pathways to form more quickly. 

To harness the power of music, Susan suggests using a song that captures how you feel after a triggering event. When faced with similar triggers in the future, remembering or playing that song can help ground us and bring back our control, allowing us to respond in a more balanced way. And that’s the magic we’re tapping into at HAPPINESS SQUAD, aiding in your leadership development journey, using music to help your rewire away from fear, and empower you to achieve greater heights.

Making Peace with Your Inner Critic

Aside from triggers, most of us also experience imposter syndrome. That feeling that you are never good enough no matter how high up the ladder you climb. Even CEOs of big companies feel like they’re faking it sometimes. This inner critic is not just a hurdle in our personal lives but poses a significant challenge in leadership development. 

At HAPPINESS SQUAD, we emphasize the importance of mastering our internal dialogue and making peace with it. It starts by trusting and loving yourself. Our inner critic obtains its energy from our deepest fears, including but not limited to: fear of belonging (not being loved), insignificance (not mattering), losing control and vulnerability. We must all dig deep and understand where these belief patterns come from.  

Next time you hear your inner critic roaring into your ear, you can recognize and honor the positivie intent by embracing it and inviting it to take a seat at the table, while also inviting the part of you that is feeling criticized. You can listen to the advice of the crtic without all its assocated judgement and drama. At the same time, you can tenderly hold that part of yourself that is feeling criticised.

Leading with Self-Awareness

Leadership development is as much about understanding ourselves as it is about inspiring others. Susan and I share a common belief: the beginning of change always has to be self awareness. Refining our leadership style begins with understanding our inner world. In doing so, we’re better equipped to lead our teams with empathy, clarity, and vision.

“There’s nothing out there that you can change. But if you want to change things out there, start in your inner world.”

Ashish Kothari

Echoing this sentiment, Professor Srikumar Rao pointed out in our recent conversation, reflection is the first step towards a lasting awakening. It’s not about being mired in the past, but rather learning from it to enhance our present and shape our future. 


Leadership development often feels like mastering a challenging piece of music. The melody of the present, harmonized with lessons from the past, orchestrates a future of empathetic, clear, and visionary leadership. At HAPPINESS SQUAD, we champion this union of music and leadership development, urging every aspiring leader to find their rhythm and craft a leadership style that resonates, inspires, and genuinely makes a difference.

Next time you hit play, get ready to rise up and dance.

Susan Drumm is an advisor, USA Today bestselling author, and leadership coach. She has personally coached billionaire CEOs, high-profile political figures, prominent Fortune 100 executive teams, and incredible entrepreneurs that are setting out to disrupt the marketplace. She’s a two-time number one bestselling author of “The Leader’s Playlist”, where you unleash the power of music and neuroscience to transform your leadership and your life. 

Learn more about Susan at her website and LinkedIn.

Listen to the podcast with Ashish, Anil and Susan below.

Access and subscribe to the all of the episodes of the Happiness Squad Podcast here.

Visit the REWIRE Program powered up by the HAPPINESS SQUAD Community and experience your shift within your 30 day risk-free trial today. Cultivate your Self-Awareness, Gratitude, Purpose and Community and personal growth more through the 9 Hardwired for Happiness practices. Integrate simple and proven micro-practices grounded in the science of happiness and neuroscience of habit formation in a 5 minutes a day.

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With the focus on enhancing joy, health, love and meaning in your life, my transformational approach is interdisciplinary and integrates learnings from spiritual wisdom traditions, philosophy, positive psychology, neuroscience and organizational development.

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