March 13, 2023

Kind Leadership Comes Back Around: A Pop Culture Parable (Challenge #58)

Kind Leadership Comes Back Around: A Pop Culture Parable (Challenge #58)

As long time listeners know, the Kind Leadership Challenge isn’t my only podcast. I also co-host Zilch! A Monkees Podcast.  On the surface, Zilch! and the Kind Leadership Challenge are as different as two podcasts can be.  And yet...each podcast has informed how I approach the other, in ways both obvious and subtle. And that was especially true this week, when I saw an interview that hammered home the cool and unexpected ways that kind leadership can often come back around to you.
Resources Discussed
Micky Dolenz and Jimmy Fallon: The Full Interview
See Micky Live this Spring!
Pre-Order Micky's Book, I'm Told I Had a Good Time
Zilch! A Monkees Podcast
Related Episodes
What are your Leadership Values? (Kind Leadership Challenge #12)
How to Make Networking "Comfortably Uncomfortable" (Challenge #28)
When's the Last Time You Asked for Help? (Challenge #50)

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This episode was produced by Podcast Boutique .



As long time listeners know, the kind leadership challenge isn’t my only podcast. I also co-host Zilch! A Monkees Podcast. And to clarify, we talk about the kind of Monkees with two es, the band from the 60s with the long hair and the goofy TV show that keeps managing to get popular every time a new crop of tweens discovers them in syndication or on youtube. Mostly Zilch and the Kind Leadership Challenge are as different as two podcasts can be. One’s long with lots of sound clips and production tricks, the other’s short and simple, and mostly just me talking into the microphone. One’s almost always solo, the other’s a group thing, with lots of interviews and different hosts helming different parts of the show. One’s mostly entertainment and silliness geared to the quirky fans of America’s first made for TV Boy Band, and the other is educational nuggets of leadership skills you can implement in your life every week. I love doing both shows because they’re so different, and yet each Podcast has informed how I approach the other, in ways both obvious and subtle. And that was especially true this week, when I heard an anecdote that hammered home the cool and unexpected ways that Kind Leadership can often come back around to you.


Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, the podcast that empowers principled educational and library leaders to heal their organizations! I’m Dr. Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild, where I use my PhD in Higher ed leadership and nearly 2 decades of experience in academic libraries to coach leaders like you who want to build a better world without burning out. 

Kind Leaders aren’t perfect, and we don’t need to be. We strive to make tough decisions without becoming jerks. We design systems that enable our teams to make a big impact without overworking. And we know that once we stop controlling and start collaborating, even the most ambitious vision can become effortless. Kind Leadership is pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So if you’re up for a challenge, stick around for the next 10 minutes as I teach you how your school or library can create a resilient, thriving legacy that will strengthen your community long after you’re gone.


So Micky Dolenz, lead singer and drummer for the Monkees, has a tour later this spring and a new book coming out toward the end of the year. And in support of these projects, Micky was invited to be a guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. This was HUGE news in Monkees world. Given that The Monkees’ heyday was almost 60 years ago, and despite the fact that their 50th anniversary produced a top 20 album and one of the most profitable tours of the year, Micky and the Monkees’ projects in recent years have mostly been publicized with stories in classic rock magazines, the occasional interview on local morning news shows, and every once in a while a visit to a certain podcast. In fact, I’m pretty sure none of the Monkees have been on a late night talk show like this in at least 10 years, maybe even more like 20. So how’d he get the opportunity? Most comedians and musicians of my generation have a soft spot for the Monkees’ music, the TV show, or both, which probably helped. However, my spidey sense told me there might be a bit more to the story. When Jimmy and Micky sat down to chat, I found out that I was right. And more than that, Jimmy told a story that provides a perfect example of Kind Leadership in action. 

Watch Jimmy tell the story (0:00-1:05)


I mean yeah, that’s kind leadership right there. My jaw would have been on the floor, except I wasn't actually all that surprised. Having been a fan for 35 years, I know that a lot of the Monkees’ pop culture staying power is rooted in the fact that despite having very different personalities and temperaments and relationships to their fame, broadly speaking the four members were and are essentially kind human beings who tried to use their celebrity for good. But let’s set the fangirling aside and look at Jimmy’s story through the lens of Kind Leadership.

The mid 90s was one of the biggest reunions for the band—in fact it was the only time after their 60s heyday when all four members toured and recorded together. Jimmy Fallon was just starting out in his career, and hadn’t even joined Saturday Night Live yet. Opening for the Monkees was a big break for him, and put him in the company of mega stars like Weird Al Yankovic and Jimi Hendrix. (Yes, THAT Jimi Hendrix. Check out the link to the full interview in the show notes for that story, because Micky tells it better anyway). So Jimmy Fallon is already thrilled, and wants to make the best of this opportunity. Micky, who at that time was by far the bigger name, saw Jimmy’s talent, and not only complimented him on it but made a decision to ask him to audition for his new pilot. The pilot didn’t go anywhere, but that wasn’t the point. Giving Jimmy that audition wasn’t only a way to cast a good young comedian for his prospective new show, it was a seasoned pro giving an opportunity to a talented up and comer, which gave Jimmy an early confidence boost that propelled him through all the success that followed. Talk about growing humanely, managing effectively, and creating collaboratively.

25 years later, the Hollywood power dynamic had flipped. Jimmy Fallon is now the A-list late night talk show host, And Micky Dolenz, though still revered by a small minority of us hardcore fans as well as those who come back to catch a tour whenever there’s a reunion, is now the last surviving Monkee. A passion project like Micky’s book exploring his archives of photos and stories of a life as an actor, director, producer and rock star probably wouldn’t rate a spot on the Tonight Show. But Jimmy Fallon apparently saw a win-win opportunity to return a favor from a quarter century before. And now an audience of people who maybe know next to nothing about the Monkees or Micky, or their friendships and projects with nearly every major star of the 60s and 70s from Jack Nicholson to John Lennon  might think about preordering his book or hitting up one of his shows later this spring. And those links are in the show notes too.

So here’s your challenge—actually two challenges. First, look at your colleagues like Micky Dolenz did his at the Universal Ampitheater in 1997. Is there someone you work with who has a lot of talent and drive, but who could maybe use a chance to grow some skills and confidence? Brainstorm an opportunity for them to stretch themselves, or if you don’t have anything, ask your colleagues and network. And then, once you’ve done that, I want you to take off Micky’s hat and walk a few steps in Jimmy Fallon’s shoes. Is there someone who gave you a shot, who you could help, or even just thank? Go ahead and do that, and then report back in the Kind Leadership Challenge community. 


Thanks as always for listening to the kind leadership challenge. Before you go, here’s a quick way you can spread the word of kind leadership. I’d like you to take a moment to think of a friend or colleague who might benefit from this week’s episode. Then, open your app or head over to and share this episode with them right now—or as soon as you’re parked if you’re driving. Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.  

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