What does music have to do with leadership in business?

What does music have to do with leadership in business?

默契: 情意暗合

I recently attended Project Management Institute (PMI), Metrolina’s Professional Development Day (PDD) in Charlotte, NC. I attend the PDD each year simply to keep up with my continuing education credits. This year was a treat for me, because we had two and a half hours of The Music Paradigm® featuring conductor Roger Nierenberg as the keynote presenter. I have to admit, I have not been to the symphony for many years and it really brought back the love I have for music, dance and art.

We were seated amongst the orchestra, surrounded by the symphony musicians. Nierenberg raised his baton for a beautiful short “A” note to open the session. The musicians that Nierenberg conducted were all local from Charlotte, but none of them had ever played together before. Nierenberg and his ad hoc local ensemble of musicians had only practiced together for the seventy minutes right before the keynote presentation. Each individual musician possessed high technical competency and the discipline to know what to do when in this situation. Nierenberg used the orchestra concept to relate to organizational leadership, collaboration, and communication by using various different styles of conducting. Each style resembled many issues we face in everyday business organizations.

Nierenberg effectively demonstrated how to understand a key business strategy, with clarity of performance objective and unity around company mission through teamwork.  I can only summarize that with the right leader (in this case Nierenberg), the musical team had synchronicity or 默契 that made it seem as if they had been together for a long time. Let’s take a look at the definition of synchronicity and 默契 (Chinese phrase).

Definition of SYNCHRONICITY (from www.merriam-webster.com)

1: the quality or fact of being synchronous

2: the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung.

默契 (pronounced mò qì): 情意暗合

Tacit understanding between parties, governments  (from www.chinese-tools.com)

When the synchronicity or 默契 reached its high point, the music came ALIVE! It was touching, it flowed through my heart, and most importantly, I enjoyed it immensely. I enjoyed it so much that I could envision ballet dancers performing right in front of me. But none of this can be accomplished in our companies unless we build up some basics in our own business. Consider the following:

  • Your business culture. Your business culture is based on, as the owner, your passion and purpose. Without that deep down culture that is uniquely yours, the attitude of your team can make or break certain projects within your business. You may not know what it is, but clarify your business vision and communicate it within your team.
  • Hold your team accountable. When Nierenberg was off-stage and not conducting, somehow the orchestra knew whom to look to as a leader with cues from Nierenberg. Nierenberg held every player accountable by simply asking him or her to perform like this other group, and follow this other group.
  • Make a connection with the team. Make an effort to connect to people by inspiring them with common goals that fit the culture – but not to micro manage them.
  • Attitude you bring to work. Through individual performances, or through you, you can expect great results by projecting an optimism and certainty that you can do it.
  • You’re the leader. Your team is expecting you to be the leader of your business. Be one! Your physical communication says it all.
  • Speak their language. Find out how to talk to your team, but communicate at a level and with language they can understand and relate to.
  • Bond with the team. Using effective role-playing to bond with the team, demonstrate the model to emulate. Play together and play together well.
  • Believe in your team. Encourage your team.

Nierenberg’s love of music and passing the value of classical music to the attendees of the PDD not only gave insight to his passion, but also to opened up their minds to receive music. Music is a universal language for the world. Perhaps, it would not be easy to use Nierenberg’s method in your business. But you can certainly consider using some of the basic concepts mentioned above for your business – the community you create with your team.

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps women entrepreneurs to convert their business into meaningful personal wealth.  She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at http://www.chialichien.com or jolly@chialichien.com.

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