The Symphonic Harmonies of Leadership

My wife and I completely enjoyed ourselves Sunday Night.  Our Daughter Sydney sings in the chamber choir for Canyon High School, and they had the opportunity to join the West Texas A & M Choir and Orchestra for a Christmas Concert.  It was phenomenal.  Music is always such a powerful force, and especially music that was written to lift up the name of Christ.

I’ve been to many concerts, and choir events and have always been impressed by the hard work and effort that is put in to producing amazing performances.  However this time as I observed the entire process I walked away with several Leadership thoughts that were extremely obvious as the musicians, singers, conductors and directors worked together to create an atmosphere that gave us more than a concert, they gave us an amazing experience.

So let me share with you some of the Leadership principles I derived from the concert.  Let me just say first, that just like the music of this concert brought a vibrancy, and inspiration to those who encountered it, so to can your leadership.  Whether inspiring those within your team or those observing your organization from an outside perspective, the unity and harmony that can come from great leadership can be incredibly inspiring and a model for others to follow.


  1. Leadership is Bringing the talents, abilities and strengths of the different individual team members together to make one beautiful, harmonic sound.

          I have always loved the beginning of concerts.  The sounds of instruments and voices tuning up.  It sounds like utter chaos, but there is a beauty about it.  All of these notes sounding off with beauty and precision, yet not together.  This is the power of leadership.  The moment the conductor takes the stage and clicks his baton against the lectern all the confusion stops, and the different individual voices and instruments come together in a collaborative effort to make one sound.  The Leader brings, guidance, direction, connection and correction to the team.  Its not just about leading the individual members of the team, its about leading them to bring their talents and skills to partner with the others on the team.  That is true leadership. The ability to lead calibration in a way that sounds singular.


2.  Leadership is developing unity of purpose.


There was a special guest, a violinist from Russia that was playing with the orchestra.  He was incredible.  As I watched him play a complicated piece that moved up and down, and faster and slower, it was invigorating.  The one thing I kept asking as I heard his violin harmonize with the flute, I thought how is he able to stay in unison with the other instruments at that rate of speed.  They were so tightly connected together it sounded like perfection.  Now I’m sure that a trained ear could hear mistakes if they were there, but I heard none.  It was impressive.  I asked myself, “what is keeping them together?”  Is it the leader?  No, because, while receiving direction about the big picture of the song, the note by note timing and playing is much to fast for them to take a cue from the leader without getting off beat or separated for each other.  Also watching the conductor can be very subjective, what I think he is directing us to do, may be different than what you direct us to do.  Conductors, lead from different styles, some very specific and micro managing and others very general or macro managing, but none could direct to the timing like this.  So, what is it?


It is the written music on the page.  Some reading as they played but no doubt everyone playing from memory.  They new it so well that they could play it and listen to each other and move together as if they were one mind.  Just as this works this way in music, it also is the unifying force in leadership.  The vision.  The leader gives direction, and clear perspective of where we are going, but it is the vision and values written down that become who we are as an organization, that are the developed culture that defines us as a team.  VISION IS VITAL.  It creates unity, harmony and a tightly knit connectedness to the others that results in greatness.  Vision tells us where we are going, why we are going there, and how we will get there.  Once deeply embraced it causes us to be able to move together with precise fluidity.


3.  Order and accolades.


I noticed that the flow of the night had been predetermined and planned and moved impressively forward to its end goal without one word being spoken.  The choir, the orchestra, and all the soloist were on the same page.  They were all working from the same plan.  They all approached it with their own skill and talent and were all very different from one another individually, but they moved in lock step with each other, and showed the power of harmonious unity.  There is true strength in group order, when derived from diverse forces coming together.  Looks and feels like Organized chaos at times, but it is all according to plan.  The Transitions and changes and modifications as the moved forward were amazing to watch.

I also noticed that at the appropriate times they took time to honor one another.  The choir and orchestra honored the soloists and the soloists honored the orchestra and choir and they all honored the Conductors and directors, while the conductors and directors pushed the accolades back towards the artists.  This teaches us something very important that is often times overlooked in leadership circles.

We need to Celebrate the wins of the team as they happen.  We need to honor individuals and departments, when they succeed.  We need to have a mutual honoring atmosphere.  Where no one is seeking for the honor or praise but is a part of the culture that honors and acknowledges the wins, successes and achievements of all the different team members, whether individual or team achievement they are equally celebrated.


I’m sure that we could come up with so many more leadership principles from observing a choir and orchestra concert.  Principles about team, collaboration, partnership, etc.  Suffice it to say in its essence whether realized or not, it is replete with leadership concepts.

I would encourage all leaders to take these principles to heart, and work this thinking into your leadership style, and watch and see if it doesn’t began to create a harmonious, symphonic sound that lifts, inspires and evokes emotion that moves followers to action.

So leaders raise the baton and let the music play.