Benjamin Zander And The Value Of Harmony

One of my greatest teachings about the value of harmony and support came from Conductor Benjamin Zander.

Zander is well known as composer, music director, and arranger; but he also lectures on leadership and organizations.  His partner Rosamund Zander and he have collaborated on a best-selling book, “The Art of Possibility” which has been translated into fifteen languages. His very popular TED talk can be found at:    

One of Zander’s most profound ideas is that, “The Conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends for his power on his ability to make others powerful.” Although the orchestra conductor may receive accolades for the music created, he produces not a single note. Instead, he must rely on the skills, performance and interpretation of the musicians themselves; and then draw them together as a whole in order to achieve that magnificent orchestral sound.  If you have ever heard a collection of novice musicians attempt to join together on a piece of music, there is profound wisdom in his words.

Viewed in this light, too many times, I see the leader of a given pursuit want to be the star, the center of attention or the one who prospers at the end of the day.  Support and collaboration have to be more if we ever expect to impact those projects on which we work, or ideas which we want to enact.

Great pieces of music, regardless of their genre, are written and arraigned so that all the players have a chance to shine. As leaders in our chosen pursuits, do you arrange the tasks and projects which you orchestrate so that all of the players have a chance to shine?

While you need not adopt white tie and tails as your work uniform, think about adopting a maestro’s touch to how you create, delegate, and evaluate tasks and praise the members of your team.  How do you structure the work? How do you construct the harmony? Where are the solos and do they make sense for the piece as a whole?  Moreover, do you give out a golf clap when the work is truly worthy of a thunderous ovation?

If you have an opportunity to see his videos either on public television or on the internet, invest a moment to watch. In a sports-cliché ridden world, having a concertmaster’s approach may just give you both a fresh insight towards skill and team building, while his message may just be music to your ears.

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