In the early days of The Third Zone blogs I addressed the similarities that exist between the role of an orchestra conductor and the business leader. By the latter I was referring to any person who had the responsibility of leading the organization, department or team. An entertaining and informative ‘Ted Talk’ video (circa 2013) featured the renowned orchestra leader Itay Talgam, who pointed to several 20th century conductor ‘greats’ and the lessons their leadership held for business leaders of that day.
The connection to business leadership was especially fascinating realizing that no verbal exchanges take place when conducting the orchestra and still, the group, or team if you will, have the potential of making the most beautiful music … and that requires cooperation, willingness to be part of a team and a sense of responsibility to the individual musician’s role, that of the full orchestra and of the leader.
Today, as we emerge into a new normal following COVID-19, it is seen that there are new business realities that will be in existence that need to be considered and addressed. These realities will and are impacting our approaches to business such as: How we effectively build a committed and engaged team that is often distanced. How we make remote people feel valued and important to the goals. How we best lead the overall effort in a way that allows each part to feel and recognize their importance to the outcome. Just imagine if each of these additional realities would be equivalent to adding other sections to the orchestra. The challenge to the conductor would be to incorporate them into the group in ways that still produce the same beautiful music while respecting and honoring their new voices.
EMULATING THE CONDUCTOR TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC IN BUSINESS
Michael Hyatt is an author and blogger and he has written about the elements of leading and conducting that are closely aligned and make for interesting and worthwhile focus.
- Great conductors always start with a musical score and a clear musical “vision” of how it should sound. Similarly, in a business, a clear vision of your end goal and the plan to achieve it are key to success.
- Practice makes perfect even in business. The best concerts are well rehearsed no matter how great the conductor is. Practicing your leadership rather than assume that you will automatically produce great leadership “music” is a prudent approach.
- Great conductors get the best out of their people at the right time. They ensure their musicians feel significant, accepted and secure. A conductor needs his musicians. Likewise, a leader needs his followers and needs to take time to develop his followership.
Great conductors lead with their heart and are passionate about their work. Likewise, a leader in business must feel passionate about the vision and mission of your organization, department or team. The leaders’ passion is infectious and generally seeps through the organization.
- Great conductors share the spotlight. When the concert is over, and the audience is clapping, the conductor turns to the audience and takes a bow. Great conductors immediately turn to their orchestra, inviting them to take the limelight. Without his orchestra, the conductor is nothing. Similarly, leadership glory is shared with your team by giving credit back to the team.
- Great conductors are not super-humans. In fact, they delegate everything to others who are better and more skilled. The conductor only appears on stage when it is time for him to lead. Great leaders know when to lead and when to let others lead. They delegate accordingly and know when to take the lead.
- The conductor usually stands on a platform and is visible to every single member of his orchestra. This is to ensure the orchestra stays in alignment. In the same way a leader is visible to the employees and teams that works to keep them well aligned.
- Great conductors lead. Most musicians in the orchestra are much more talented than the conductor. They are experts in their musical instruments. They look to their conductor not for technical advice but for leadership. The same happens in organizations. Most leaders are NOT functional or technical experts. Most employees look up to them for leadership. They need to inspire, create excitement, have a clear vision and lead.
THE CARRY-FORWARD LEARNING TO BENEFIT BUSINESS
The emerging business environment of today bears some challenges with which we have only limited experience and it is experience that continues to be forthcoming. As the conductor is tasked with creating perfect harmony and beautiful music within and among all the variable parts of the orchestra, the leaders in an organization need to continually focus on creating perfect harmony to ensure that beautiful products and profits are the result.
As a leader, you might have a strategy as well-written as a Mozart symphony, but if your orchestra is not well conducted, then noise will prevail over music. I seriously wonder if it might make good sense for a company’s leadership to attend a concert as inspiration to make the same beautiful music in the organization. A nice and worthwhile way to spend an afternoon?