Lead Softly, but Carry a Big Baton

I love watching a symphony perform. The conductor waving his arms like crazy. All those people, blowing, plucking, strumming, beating all those expensive instruments. It seems to me like the speed of all the arm movements never matches up to what the symphony is doing, but beautiful music happens.

One thing I do know, the conductor must be the leader. He is isn’t he? We’ve all read about how musicians are left-brained, emotional, temperamental (or just plain ole mental); that a group of musicians together is like a heard of cats wandering along the street. So how do they come together, and how does the leader of a symphony pull off literally getting them all on the same page.

Roger Nierenberg is a symphony conductor who figured out how to get independent people, to work together as a team. His method of team leadership has some great principles we can all learn from.

A leader is someone who commits to what hasn’t happened yet.
Always stay a step ahead of those you are leading. Your team needs to know that you are going to show them where you need to go and why; they have to know you are confident and in charge. Always share, “here’s where we’re going”.

Don’t blame the team.
Many times poor resources, not sub-par team members can hurt your team’s performance. Never assume. Be sure you know the cause of bad execution before you decide that you have to fix a team member problem that doesn’t exist.

Give team members permission to be their best.
When your team doesn’t perform as well as you’d like them to, your tendency is to think you have to adjust your connection with the team. The real story is many times people are waiting for permission to do what they’re capable of doing. Tell your team members, go for it.

Commit to what hasn’t happened yet, don’t blame the team, give permission to excel.

Make beautiful music.

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