Website Screenshots by PagePeeker What Conductors Can Teach Us About Leadership in Business and in Life – Heres The Answers

What Conductors Can Teach Us About Leadership in Business and in Life


Leadership is very personal. There is not a right or a wrong way to do it. I've seen many styles and almost all have a place. It depends on the situation and the personalities of the leader.

In general, I've observed two broad leadership styles in business and in life, one common and one not so much.

The first kind of leader believes they have to protect their position. They believe that others hold their success against them. Trust no one. Respect is earned, it's never given. They keep back information, are notorious for being passive aggressive and generally do not play well with others. Command and control are their princes. Hierarchy is their castle.

This article is for managers who practice the other, not so common style.

These managers have confidence. They are open to ideas and contributions regardless of source. Their confidence also allows them to hear and accept criticism. They accept feedback takes the team to a better place, they will acknowledge its truth. They will incorporate feedback into the plan. They are not worried that they will be seen as weak. They distribute credit and respect all without regard for position.

The first type is quite common. They often achieves successful success by focusing on short-term goals.

The second approach is often described as "soft." This is usually the description used by managers who pursue the first style. Do not be fooled. If given a chance, the "softer" approach is much more likely to bring innovation and growth to your organization.

If you had the choice, who would you rather follow?

Well, so would your employees.

So now the question is,

"If I'm the second type, how can I do a better job?

Conductors are great leaders

You can learn a lot by watching how conductors leads an orchestras. When I was a music student, many, many years ago, I played in several orchestras led by excellent conductors. I learned a lot from them, things I use every day in business and in life. It's the approach that works for me and it may work for you. Look for and foster the characteristics of a conductor in yourself. Look for them in your employees and in any hires you are considering.

Conductors focus their ego on the orchestra

A conductor draws the best from the musicians in the orchestra. They provide clear direction. Good conductors foster an environment where musicians can make the music better.

While the conductor is the leader, their back is to the audience. It is not about what they can do, it's about what the orchestra does. Great conductors focuses their egos on the orchestra's success.

Conductors are active listeners

Active listening is an important part of being an effective conductor. It is also important to business leadership. Listening is something we do all the time. We take it for granted. Conductors are not just great listeners, they are active listeners. How you listened to collections, to customers, to yourself is key.

A conductor listens with their ears and with their eyes. They see what the music and musicians are and should be doing.

Are you just there or is listening a conscious activity?

Are you thinking about what you want to say or about what is being said?

Are you an active listener?

Conductors conduct with empathy

A conductor consider all points of view. They need to think like the individual musicians, sit in their chairs. They do this to understand how each part fits into the music.

Think about your team members this way. What's their backgrounds and situations? How it could have influencing their perspectives. Engage team members with your eyes and with your questions. Do not immediately judge what they say or do. Consider their points of view or actions from a their perspective.

When you lead, lead with empathy.

Conductors do not stifle individuality

Conductors recognize that each team member has their own styles. Great conductors adjust the performance to suit the styles of the musicians. Adjust to team the members' styles. Do not force them to match your style.

Doing this makes them comfortable. It lets them focus on the performance. If they're comfortable, if they're not fighting to make their style work with yours, they can focus on the work.

Conductors are self aware

Leaders often underestimate the impact they have. A conductor can signal a whole section of the orchestra with a glance.

Your team is paying attention. Listen to yourself. Consider the words you choose. Are they designed to draw out the conversation or close it down? Are you judging or are you communicating your openness to dissent and discussion?

Are you talking too much? A key to effective leadership is keeping your mouth shut. A pause in the conversation is not always a bad thing. Watch the person you are talking to. Listen with your eyes. Are they thinking about the discussion? Are they formulating a comment, a question, a contribution? Let them finish. Do not immediately attempt to fill the space. Let the conversation develop at its pace. It's amazing what you can learn if you are paying attention and not talking.

Conductors make music, not noise

Dissonance makes music interesting. Without it there is not any drama; if there's no drama, it's boring. Conductors manage dissonance within the confines of the music's structure. The structure gives the dissonance a frame, structure allows dissonance to become music. Without structure dissonance is noise. Think 12 bar blues.

Leaders understand this. They maintain and support societal constructs, sometimes called common courtesy. This creates an environment that's friendly to discourse. Leaders encourage discussion including disagreements. But they do not let it get out of control, they do not let it leave the realm of common courty. Otherwise you lose the benefits that come from straightforward discussion and honest disagreement.

So what kind of leader are you?

  • Be a conductor. Focus on the team's success. Provide the leadership and resources team members need to solo and to play as an ensemble.
  • Be confident. Great conductors and leaders have an ego. Focus yours on the work, on the team. Let their success become yours.
  • Let the team take its bows before you take yours. Without them you're nothing but a man or woman with a short stick.
  • Great talent wants to work with great talent. Show your greatness by creating an environment where all can flourish.
  • Respect the people you work with. You will find it returned in spades.
  • Protect your people, stifle politics. Great things happen when smart people focus on the opportunity, not on protecting their backsides.
  • Be honest, with yourself and with others.
  • Listen, listen with your conscious mind, with empathy and care. Listen to many voices. And listen to what you're saying and how you're saying it. If you're talking you are not listening.
  • Maintain decorum and civility within the team. Be the boss if that's what it takes. Keep the conversation courteous and respectful and great ideas will be born.

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Source by James Hipkin

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