Conductor Benjamin Zander Credit Interlochen Centre for the Arts
Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic orchestra once observed that ‘the conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power – on his ability to make other people powerful. That process of making others powerful is an art but here are 5 thoughts on things leaders can do to help:
1. Context. Leaders need to answer two fundamental questions; what are we going to do & why are we doing it? Why, is all about context and gives meaning – a pre-condition for any sense of purpose, motivation and commitment. For individuals to think and act for themselves in the interests of the team context is critical. Leaders make sure the team has a view of the horizon and understands how individual activity connects to collective endeavour.
2. Connections. Teamwork is always about what is connected. How do my actions connect to the teams actions, how does this team connect to other teams or a wider mission? Partly it’s about building relationships – a relationship is a connection strong enough to bear the weight of real work even under pressure. The more senior the leader the more important their ability to make connections becomes – ultimately defining organizational structures – the best cut through silos and connect multiple players and teams.
3. Safety. Leaders create a climate and a culture where you get to be yourself. You don’t act a part you can be honest and in return you get to hear the truth. This is an environment that is both genuinely caring of the whole person but also demanding in its expectation that individuals strive to meet their potential.
4. Time. Time always seems short but the reality is that like any commodity in abundance we tend to squander it. We don’t treat it like it’s precious, in the expectation that there’s always tomorrow. Leaders create time by not wasting it being overly reactive and tactical, stuck in the day to day, in the job instead of on the job.
5. Space. Leaders create space for their teams by clearing the path and removing obstacles and eliminating friction. A lot of things get in the way – meetings, reports, often times leaders themselves! Getting out of the way creates the space for the team to act, to think for itself and to play to its strengths.
The Legendary Basketball coach John Wooden, would begin each new season by sitting down his new players and demonstrating to them how they were to tie the laces on their shoes. Surely unnecessary? – These athletes had been playing the game for years. Wooden’s point, was that for many things…Read more
‘Clarity begins with realizing what we do not notice—and don’t notice that we don’t notice’. Sir Alex Ferguson the legendary former coach of football club Manchester United was quite clear in his leadership philosophy and approach to coaching that the ability to notice what was going on, to…Read more
‘…a war begun for no purpose, carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity, brought to a close after suffering and disaster, without much glory attached either to the government which directed, or the great body of troops which waged it. Not one benefit, political or military, was…Read more
‘The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place’ George Bernard Shaw We know that good communication depends in good measure on listening but we mostly spend too little time thinking about what that really means. Listening is usually passive, in the sense that it…Read more