Throughout her career, musician and songwriter Taylor Swift has evolved. From her early beginnings as a country singer to her role as a social media darling, philanthropist, and women’s advocate, Taylor exerts incredible influence over her fans and young people around the world. Her work in the political arena, including her recent public endorsement of two Tennessee politicians, has galvanized young voters and demonstrates what a powerful force Taylor can be as an influencer and as a leadership role model.
Career OverviewTaylor Alison Swift was born in December 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. She became interested in music at the age of 9 and began vocal lessons. Inspired by country music artists, she performed at local festivals as a country singer, and at the age of 14 moved to Tennessee to pursue her country singing career. She was met with almost overnight success; her first album set chart records after peaking on the Billboard 200 at #5 in 2006. Her next album, released in 2008, was even more successful, netting Taylor sales records and four Grammy Awards. She continued to release albums, focusing on sharing her personal stories and insights that resonated with her fans. Rolling Stone added her to the magazine’s Greatest Songwriters of All Time in 2015.
Today, Swift is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums. She has also won numerous awards, including:
- A total of 10 Grammys
- 23 Billboard Music Awards
- One Emmy Award
- 12 Country Music Association Awards
- 6 Guinness World Records
Influential LeadershipInfluence in society or the business world is closely related to leadership. In fact, it can be argued that influence is a form of leadership; being able to influence the thoughts or actions of others compels them to do things they may not have considered before being exposed to the influencer. Taylor Swift influences millions of people on a daily basis. On Instagram, she is #9 in the rankings of users with the most followers – 112 million followers and counting. She has used social media platforms to connect with fans, including sharing details about her personal life as well as to support various causes such as charitable organizations and fundraising efforts. This is leadership, as it encourages others to support the causes that Taylor gets behind. Ms. Swift may not be a leader in the classical sense – a role usually reserved for business or political figures – but it is powerful nonetheless. Taylor’s influencer/leadership combination continues to grow as her career matures and she provides her support to new causes.
Fan LeadershipMost of Taylor Swift’s fans view her as a passionate, caring individual, and their perception meets reality on a regular basis. Taylor has long been one of the most vocal supporters of her fanbase, helping spearhead fundraising campaigns and providing advocacy and encouragement to the fans who need it most. A perfect example of her caring nature when she chose to support a fan’s GoFundMe page, created when the fan’s mother required expensive medical treatment. Taylor recently donated over $15,000, and by doing so influenced other fans to join the cause. This isn’t Taylor’s first time supporting a fan; in early October 2018, she also contributed $10,000 to help one of her autistic fans obtain a service dog. She is also known for providing free show tickets to first responders, especially after an officer was killed in Massachusetts just before her scheduled show there.
Taylor has lent her financial and time resources to many other causes, including organizations like the American Red Cross, educational initiatives, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and UNICEF, among many others. It is her personal connection to her fans through simple acts of kindness, though, that has garnered her a reputation as a celebrity who truly cares about the many individuals who call themselves her fans.
Political LeadershipDuring the 2008 elections, Taylor Swift supported the Every Woman Counts voting initiative, helping to encourage women to vote. This was Taylor’s first public viewing of her outsized influence – an influence and form of leadership that would only continue to grow in subsequent years. Taylor has educated herself on numerous social causes to help others understand them and to bring these causes into the public light.
In 2018, Taylor took her influence to the next level when she, for the first time in her career, lent her personal endorsement of two Democratic candidates in the Tennessee midterm elections. This came as somewhat of a surprise to many, as she has remained apolitical through most of her award-winning career. She is hoping to have Congressman Jim Cooper reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives and is supporting former Governor Phil Bredesen as he strives to become elected to the U.S. Senate. Because of her support and her influence as a leader, a surge of voters occurred, with 65,000 new registered voters being added to the rolls in 24 hours after her announcement.
At the 2018 American Music Awards, she encouraged attendees, viewers, and fans to be sure to vote in the midterm elections – a powerful galvanizing force that shows just how influential she can be.
Taylor Swift may not be a business mogul or a political figure, but her form of leadership has changed many lives. From voting advocacy to humanitarian causes and personal connections with fans, she is ideally suited to influence people around the world.
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