When I was 19, I backpacked with friends for a couple months in Europe. During our many adventures there was one in particular that often comes to mind. A time we were in Barcelona, Spain. We were starving, as it was Siesta (the time of day all the restaurants/eateries/shops are closed for shop owners to eat lunch and take a nap), and we were hungry – no starving.

We were waiting near a place that would open for food in a couple hours, when one of the girls starts acting like a star-struck groupie, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, it’s Bono, it’s Bono!” I looked over and at the time I didn’t know who it was. I thought to myself, “who?” Then I said out loud, “Hey where did you get that ice cream?” He and some of his band mates were eating ice cream (did I mention we were starving). Their tour bus was 20 feet from us, they had ice cream and they were happy to share with this scrappy looking group of European travelers.

No I don’t have an autograph and yes, one of the girls has a picture of all of us with the band (I really do need to get a copy). See, these were the days of disposable cameras, no Instagram or Facebook to post such moments. However, the encounter and images are still clear in my mind. Bono and his bandmates were so kind and helpful to me and my friends that he earned his rank in my “inspiring leader” files.

bono, the lead singer of the irish band u2, is not all about music

There is no other celebrity in the music industry that has the same presence as Bono does. Aside from being a great musician with many awards behind him, he is a man who tries to make a difference in the world. He is a celebrity who opens his eyes and others to the issues that are happening around the world and tries to fix him. Despite being a great humanitarian Bono is a great leader as well. He is in a sense, the leader of the band U2, which without his leadership wouldn’t have had such an extraordinary long-term success.

Bono has some key characteristics present in leaders from which all of us can learn, and his leadership abilities are the following:

#1 communicate an inspiring vision and live it

Not only Bono, but the whole U2 band wants to improve the world. They are trying to achieve this goal through their music and influence. This humane characteristic of the whole band is what makes them stand out, Bono calls them “the spark”. They make songs that send messages which they consider important to promote.

According to a White House report, more millennials with some college or college degrees are unemployed now than all generations before the Great Recession in 2007. It isn’t that we expect to be handed anything. The numbers of millennials doing their part are high, but the response to that hard work has been economically small.

He lives his vision with his wife, who both are philanthropists helping the poor, especially in Africa.

#2 value people

Follow Bono’s example and value people. He values people, encourages, and affirms them. He does that with his fellow band members as well. He recognizes the talents they have and says that without them U2 wouldn’t have been so successful. Bono supports his fellow band members in all times. For example, when Larry’s mom died Bono (Bono actually lost his mom at age 14) was there to support him and share his pain. When “the edge” went through a divorce Bono was right by his side. Instead of kicking Adam out of the band when showing up stoned to a gig, they helped him get clean.

Even when it comes to profit Bono gives and gives. Other leaders of the bands take up most of the profit, but not Bono. He splits the profit equally with his fellow band members and their manager.

#3 give people a voice

Every decision-making process includes not only Bono but all of the band members. They may argue a lot about things, but according to Bono this is the best way to achieve excellence.

All of these characteristics that Bono has, make the band members feel like they are a part of a community and unity. They feel like their band is one very close family. They are so close to each other that they are even willing to take a bullet for one another, like at the time when Bono received a death threat about singing the song, Pride, Adam stood right in front of him through the whole song.


Bono should be an inspiration to us all not only because of his leadership abilities, but because of his philanthropic nature as well. The inspiration for him to became such a great philanthropic came after seeing, The Secret Policeman’s Ball. The first humane thing that he did was help the organization of Amnesty International’s Conspiracy of Hope tour. He took part in Band Aid and Live Aid projects as well.

His primary and most important goal that he has set for himself is to try and wipe out AIDS and poverty in the underdeveloped countries.

The first charitable work that he did was when he went to Ethiopia with his wife, where he developed an education program. They used plays and songs to help them spread important information about hygiene, health and other important issues. There is a book released with photos from this trip.

After Ethiopia he visited Nicaragua and El Salvador to help children. He has taken part in a lot of Festivals and has organized a lot of concerts whose main purpose is to fight important issues that have become part of the everyday life.

His main efforts lay in setting up campaigns to fight poverty such as ONE Campaign, Data, RED and EDUN. He was part of the Generous Celebrity List done by Forbes and what got him there was his word to fight the spread of AIDS in Africa, the great number of times he participated in fundraising concerts and his $50,000 donation to One in Four Ireland, a charity that helps people who have gone through the act of sexual abuse.

He has helped provide hundreds of million dollars to help prevent HIV, aids, to give basic care to orphans and many other causes that he finds important to fight for. He has had three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, but hasn’t won any. In 2007 he was knighted – yes technically we should address him as “Sir” Bono.


Some of the charities that Bono supports include Chernobyl Children International, Every Mother Counts, Make Poverty History, UNICEF and many others. The causes that Bono supports include adoption, AIDS and HIV, children, civil rights, hunger, literacy and many more.

If you have been or are now a Bono fan here is a fun: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bono by Spencer Kaufman

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