The busi­ness of con­duct­ing: awak­en­ing pos­si­bil­ity in oth­ers

Finweek English Edition - - Portfolio Punts -

IN THE UN­CHAR­TERED WA­TERS of the in­for­ma­tion age, any­thing is pos­si­ble. The world is con­stantly chang­ing. This means leaders can’t rely on the past to pre­dict fu­ture. Old ways of do­ing things just won’t work.

But, new and ex­traor­di­nary ways of do­ing things will only be in­vented by those who awaken to the uni­verse of pos­si­bil­ity, and use their imagination, ques­tion the ob­vi­ous and en­ter­tain the im­prob­a­ble.

In lead­ing the re­hearsal of a di­verse group of mu­si­cians at a re­cent event hosted by the Uni­ver­sity of Pre­to­ria’s Gor­don In­sti­tute of Busi­ness Sci­ence, South Africa’s favourite con­duc­tor Richard Cock demon­strated an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant lead­er­ship trait: the art of awak­en­ing pos­si­bil­ity in oth­ers.

The art of con­duct­ing is not sim­ply about get­ting di­verse and tal­ented mu­si­cians, of­ten with strong per­son­al­i­ties, to work to­gether to achieve a com­mon goal. It is also not about stand­ing in front of an or­ches­tra and beat­ing time. “Any­one can do that,” said Cock.

“A good con­duc­tor en­ables in­di­vid­ual mu­si­cians to shine. In other words, a con­duc­tor en­ables ev­ery mu­si­cian to be the best per­former they could be,” said Cock. Through many sub­tle ac­tions, he ex­tracts breath­tak­ing mu­sic from a group of play­ers.

Word-renowned con­duc­tor of the Bos­ton Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra Ben­jamin Zan­der de­scribes a great per­for­mance as one that stirs your soul, re­ar­ranges your mol­e­cules, and turns your be­ing in­side out.

There are a num­ber of sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween lead­er­ship and con­duct­ing: A good con­duc­tor em­bod­ies a sound vi­sion Cock says any­one can stand in front of an or­ches­tra and make the ba­sic ges­tures that start and stop the or­ches­tra. Great con­duc­tors have a pas­sion­ate vi­sion for the mu­sic, and skil- fully lead an or­ches­tra to per­form that vi­sion.

If every­one fol­lowed their own vi­sion, it would be chaos. So, the con­duc­tor leads the or­ches­tra with one vi­sion.

Al­though he/she may ver­bally com­mu­ni­cate the vi­sion of what he wants to cre­ate in the mu­sic to the mem­bers of the or­ches­tra, the real test is com­mu­ni­cat­ing his vi­sion through the non-ver­bal act of con­duct­ing.

The con­duc­tor’s ev­ery move­ment, eye con­tact, thought and breath must em­body that vi­sion.

Cock shares Zan­der’s view that the new leader‘s job is to cre­ate a pow­er­ful vi­sion that al­lows room for things to oc­cur that are as yet un­dreamed of. The leader must hold the def­i­ni­tion of the vi­sion so clearly that all the play­ers in­volved are able to align with it daily. And that vi­sion leads to a great per­for­mance. A good con­duc­tor leads in real-time As an ex­am­ple of lead­er­ship in action, con­duct­ing is about com­mu­ni­cat­ing and em­body­ing the vi­sion from start to fin­ish. The en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion could dis­in­te­grate if the leader loses fo­cus on his/her vi­sion or stops “con­duct­ing the or­ches­tra.” A good con­duc­tor leads without do­ing Cock said in­di­vid­ual play­ers only get the big­ger pic­ture dur­ing re­hearsal, when the mu­si­cians sit to­gether and play their in­di­vid­ual parts. The con­duc­tor must know the mas­ter plan and what every­one is sup­posed to do.

A con­duc­tor leads without seem­ing to, and without peo­ple be­ing fully aware of ev­ery­thing he does.

A con­duc­tor knows what he/she wants from ev­ery in­stru­ment and un­der­stands their strengths and weak­nesses.

Cock says he leaves the tech­ni­cal de­tails to the play­ers who are all ex­perts. He trusts ev­ery player to play their part.

A con­duc­tor works to­ward build­ing the best team of ex­perts who are will­ing and able to fol­low his/her vi­sion. A good con­duc­tor cre­ates magic Great con­duc­tors don’t nec­es­sar­ily have a novel way of per­form­ing a piece of mu­sic, but have a great deal of artis­tic in­tegrity and pas­sion. That’s why magic fol­lows them.

Cock, who loves bring­ing mu­sic to the masses and con­vert­ing them to the cause of orches­tral and choral mu­sic in par­tic­u­lar, said here are a few things peo­ple can do to de­velop into “mae­stro” leaders: Watch con­duc­tors in action

par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the con­duc­tor. Be con­ducted

mu­si­cal group Work with con­duc­tors

con­duc­tors and/or mu­si­cians the peo­ple on the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme Re­flect on your own lead­er­ship -

mu­ni­cate it – em­body it the board­room or by memo, but in real time vi­sion and lead­er­ship, and let­ting oth­ers make it hap­pen As a grand fi­nale to the evening, Cock demon­strated how a good leader can awaken pos­si­bil­ity in any­one and spur them into in­spired action. He got every­one in the audi from Beethoven‘s 9th Sym­phony – an iconic piece that speaks of hope, the fu­ture and im­mor­tal­ity – in Ger­man.

Never doubt peo­ple’s ca­pac­ity to ac­com­plish what­ever you dream for them.

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