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Archive for the category “collaboration”

Learn great leadership from orchestra conductors – What is your style?


Learn great leadership from orchestra conductors – What is your style? 

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer

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? How does a conductor merely lead by gesturing?

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 think 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 dela 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.

Substitute conductor for the name of your boss and see where he/ she may fall. Do they know where you stand and are they 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 great ideas. If the leader-manager is you, well, what is your management style?

Ralf

Making the process of blog writing simpler


Making the process of blog writing simpler 

This is a really useful point to ponder whether you are in the process of starting a blog or you start with a new job: You want to slip under the covers of comfort and routine as soon as possible but that can only come to fruition over some period of time. I call this the chaos period in which you will need to find out the hard way where the borders – perceived and real ones – lie. Once that has happened, you can enjoy a sense of community and your individuality. Ironically, you need each person’s individuality to make it a community and it is the community that allows for you to have your own way of doing and seeing things. You cannot have the one without the other. Realizing that there is a process behind it that will only take a few days to weeks to get into place should make it easier for you to embrace the period of chaos and insecurity. Anticipating change and its unsettling effects is half the bet to surviving and thriving in the process of it.

Where is this helpful again? Let’s say that you are starting a new job. The first 2 to 8 weeks are most likely the scariest as you need to explore the culture of the organization and how you fit and where you can make a contribution. It is unsettling and does not feel natural. Know that what you are feeling is normal and it too shall pass. Unless there is a total incompatibility you will be part of a team soon and can make a contribution and still remain an independent person as well.

Blogging for instance is a great and rewarding thing to do, but it will take some time to find your own tribe that will support and understand you. Knowing that you will go through a sense of chaos first within yourself and then with the first people paying attention to you can be a daunting thought. In order to be successful at it you will need to figure out voice and calling. It is the single most important task of your blogging / writing career right before developing content. One follower at a time will need to get what you want to stand for and the beginning can be awfully rough and chaotic before you start building a solid followership. The more you can make a case for being yourself, the greater the chance you will generate a sustainable followership (community, tribe). All it takes is an unsettling vortex of change and chaos in the beginning that you will need to put up with.

If you want to bake a cake and eat it too you will need to put up with the whole process. Here it is dealing with the sacred geometry of change that will always be your uneasy companion when you want individualism and a sense of community. That applies to the communities that you want to create as well as the ones that you will “just” become part of. Agree? Disagree?

Ralf

You have only one try making a great first impression


You have only one try making a great first impression 

Foto credit: Pablo by Buffer

As a rambunctious adolescent I often proclaimed that how I look on the outside should not matter, not in school and definitely not in business. Well, I found out the hardest way that that is wrong. Your dress code does matter like you wouldn’t believe making your first impression on people.

In our society of today where just about anything goes as far as clothes (or the lack thereof), skin and body alterations and accessories etc are concerned you would believe that our outward appearance doesn’t matter much. Well it does. Let me share the experience of an airline pilot. I am paraphrasing what he shared with me while we were waiting at the gate for our flight to take off.

  • “When I wear my uniform everybody wants to talk to me. I can talk to just about everyone, because they want to talk to me.”
  • “Wearing my nice uniform lets me speak to beautiful women that would not give me a second look in my street clothes.”
  • “People assume that because I wear a pilot’s uniform, I belong with the big airline because the plane carries the logo of it. Not so at all, but they assume that anyway.”
  • “Wearing the uniform people are on their best behavior and usually extremely courteous.”
  • “People think just because I wear this pilot uniform that I am more educated than them. Does that really mean that?”
  • “A pilot’s uniform seems to suggest that I make so much more money than the average person. I make less than my brother in-law who is a truck driver. We are essentially on the road the same amount of time and to come to think of it I am just about doing the same job as him.”
  • “Sir, you wear a suit. I would think – just like any other person – that you are quite well educated and that you have a well-paying career.”

Fascinating, huh? Do not get sidetracked by what he said and that some of you may argue that his points of view may be questionable. The bottom line of all the comments is that our outward appearance (dress code) does matter. No matter how right or wrong the position may be, we will always be judged quietly by others. The others are the judge and the jury and the executioner all wrapped up in one.

Is it impossible to regain lost ground and get people beyond our first impression? No it isn’t, but it takes many an interaction to do that and if your first contact is all you’ve got, well, then what are you going to do? All you have is one time making a great first impression.

Ralf

 

PS: Here is a Wall Street Journal article (click here for reading the article) about how appearance doesn’t matter. That is only true when you are part of a tribe and a certain dress code / appearance is expected of you even though it may be viewed as intolerable by another social group.

Listening to understand – it’s what our country and society needs the most right now


Listening to understand – it’s what our country and society needs the most right now 

Can you hear me now? No, this is not an old commercial for a cell phone company. This is about how we listen to other people. Unfortunately, on average we are very bad listeners. We listen to talk instead of listening to understand.

That is a very important differentiation. We are so filled with so much information and so many opinions that it is just waiting to bubble right out of us. Instead of seeking to really understand the other person, we just cannot wait for the other person to finish such that we can jump in with our stuff. It’s got to be said. Or does it?

Please help stop this craziness. Make a habit to take a deep breath and wait before saying anything when another person is speaking especially in a group of people. Ask yourself if any input of yours will make the others better off. Resist the urge and say nothing if you cannot add value to the conversation. Seek to understand what is being said. More importantly focus on what isn’t being said. Finally, use challenging questions to get information from the others to get to a decent understanding about the issues at hand. Ask questions that cannot be answered with a Yes or No.

Never waste a good chance to really understand another person. All it takes is silence on your part. Whom and when to ask is another line item to think about.

Ralf

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