What The Wiz Live Taught Me About Leadership
Trill or Not Trill?


The Wiz came back last night and I loved it. Instead of reviewing the reprisal of black excellence, we’ll be looking at leadership. The best part of this musical is obviously the sannngin. (not the singing but the sannngin) There are so many memorable songs throughout the show and I wanted take this moment to show how this isn’t simply about entertainment. We could actually learn a thing or two or three from songs found in the The Wiz Live. So let’s Ease on Down this leadership road. (See what I did there?)


Amber Riley bodied this role. NBC

Song: He’s the Wiz
Singer: Addaperle
Trill Lyric: “I’d better point you toward the Wiz.”
“He’s the one,he’s the only one. Who can give your wish right to ya.”
Addaperle couldn’t quite give Dorothy what she needed but without her initial help and advice, we’d have no journey. As a leader, you won’t have all the answers. The key is to not lead people astray in times of your own ignorance. If you can’t directly help or have the solution, find someone who can. Doing so beats the concept of giving someone the runaround or worse, the flat out wrong answer.  Depending on the question or issue , this can be just as important as direct assistance. It is a sign of humility and an understanding to show that this isn’t all about you.  A true sign of leadership is an ability to help those in need. Being able to find a way when there seemingly isn’t one, shows that you care about the bigger picture. We aren’t all experts in everything but if we know who has the expertise in something specific, then a win is still in the picture. Sidenote: Amber P Riley absolutely killed it! She raised the bar for the rest of the show.



Song: You Can’t Win
Singer: Scarecrow
Trill Lyric: “You can’t win, you can’t win no way. If your story stays the same, no, no”
Those crows were some dancing and flying haters. One thing leaders must do, is learn to ward off the detractors. You have to keep away from those who don’t want you to win. It’s easy to get caught up and drown in negativity. Chatter such as “you can’t do that” or  “nobody’s ever done that, so neither should you,” does nothing to enhance growth.  Surrounding yourself with people who are constantly bringing you down is detrimental to development. Find positive friends, followers and colleagues who are willing to push you. You’ll never be crowded if the right crowd is around you. Shoo away the crows in your circle and fly towards the goals. Sidenote: Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow in the original film was untouchable.

Song: (I’m a) Mean Ole Lion
Singer: The Lion
Trill Lyric: You better beware
This is the king of the jungle here
And if I happen to let you slide
Don’t stand here
Run and hide
You just caught my better side
Authenticity is one of the most important characteristics of leadership. The Lion played by one

Lion wasn't bout that life. NBC

Lion wasn’t bout that life. NBC

of my favorite actors (David Alan Grier) was roaring and singing like he was the king of the jungle. When things hit the fan, aka when he got hit in the nose, we saw the Lion for what he was.  As a leader, being authentic allows you to be genuine and self aware. When you understand who you are, then you ‘ll be able to recognize your strengths and faults. Being something other than authentic derails you from the mission and hurts the development of the group. Your true self will always appear. Whether it is exposed or transparently shining through, will be up to you.  Sidenote: David Alan Grier is an all time comedic actor to me. He always kills every role, from In Living Color to Boomerang to the Carmichael Show.

Song: Be a Lion
Singer: Dorothy & Lion
Trill Lyric: And with no fear inside
No need to run
No need to hide
You’re standing strong and tall
You’re the bravest of them all
If you encourage others to courageous then everyone wins. When the others were getting on the Lion for not fighting, Dorothy stepped in. Leaders have to be there to lift their teammates up at the lowest moments. In the next challenge of facing those lovely poppies, ( I luh them), it was the Lion’s sultry slick moves that saved the day. Always give people the confidence they need to be better and stronger. Dorothy’s greatest sign of leadership was her ability to rally the troops. She did so, by constantly pushing them to believe and to do better. When a leader has this characteristic, it rubs ff on everyone else. Next thing you know, the room is filled with people pushing people to reach new and unseen heights

Song: Don’t Nobody Bring me Bad NewsIMG_6256
Singer: Evilene
Trill Lyric: Cause I wake up already negative/ And I’ve wired up my fuse/ So don’t nobody bring me no bad news
Bad news is bound to appear. When it does, what will you do? If you’re Evilene, you saaannng the heck out of a song. For the rest of us who are vocally challenged, bad news can’t be the end all be all. When a hurdle appears, attempt to jump over it. If you trip, wipe away the dust. If you fall, pick your self up and keep this party going. A true leader will find a way to assure that bad news doesn’t derail the movement. They will look at is as an additional challenge that can be overcome. There will always be work to be down no matter what type of news. Never get too high or too low by a message. Stay positive and focused and always continue to make moves towards your goals.  Sidenote: This really might have Mary J. Blige’s best performance. She was absolutely incredible. The last time she had me this engaged was in her Emmy nominated (that part isn’t true) role in the BET classic, Prison Song. It co starred Q Tip. Go watch it if you haven’t.

Song: We Got It
Singer: The whole squad
Trill Lyric: “This won’t be easy”
Solidarity will get you to your destination. This new song exhibited such mentality. Dorothy was about to get left in the dust to battle with Evilene. Just as I was about to get upset at the boys for leaving our sister, the song kicked into gear. The importance of teamwork and trust showed its face. Leadership is not easy and success takes effort. If you are willing to put in the work with the understanding that things will be tough, greatness will happen. Of course it won’t be easy but if it was, then everyone would be doing it. Sidenote: Big shouts to Dorothy, played by Shanice Williams. She was incredible. This wasn’t like the classic stage play or move but I  love The Wiz! Good to see a new generation introduced to this great musical.


Stay trill, folks.

MrJeffDess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is an author of 4 books of poetry, including his latest, Deconstructing Ratchet. With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt MrJeffDess continues to strive towards helping students reach their highest potential. For booking information, contact MrJeffDess at mrjeffdess@gmail.com