What you can learn about leadership from conductors
When I was young(er) I really did not get the point what an orchestra conductor’s job really was supposed to be. Sure the hairdos and wild gestures were very impressive, but how did all of that transpose into leadership and much less into the beautiful music? After all, the musicians were all professionals who obviously knew their instruments and music?
Point is that much can be learned about the conductor and leadership by just watching them during performances (please watch this TED Talk about this topic here). By far the worst by today’s standards are the tyrants who honestly thing only their interpretation of the music should be played. This turns the musicians into mere instruments. That is so yesteryear. The first conductor shown in the linked video was told that he was indeed a great conductor, but he was also invited to quit at the same time. The musicians appear to not being able to stand the egocentric life and leadership style.
Then there are the minimalists who keep their musicians guessing what and when and how they are supposed to play. Sound familiar? With leaders like that there are fields of raw eggs to stomp on – no matter where you step there may be a mess soon.
The semi good conductors provide visible and audible low key directions. They enjoy the performance and really attempt inviting the musicians to interpret the pieces making the performance memorable.
The crème de la crème are conductors who lead by increasing their musician’s potential. At the performance they are merely there providing a presence of comfort and collaboration. The rest is up to the team of musicians and the notes in front of them. Responsibility and autonomy are at a natural balance. Every stake holder is better off and the audience gets to experience a really unique concert. It’s one of a kind; one that is meant only for this audience.
Look at any of the conductor leadership examples and look at your boss for a moment. Which style does your boss have? Does he/she know where you stand and is he/she working on getting better at leadership? If so, be candid and share this post and / or the video with them. Having the courage to look at themselves and then having the persistence of making changes are signs of great leaders. Please let me know if and how I may be of any help to you.