Leadership of Strategic Engagement has some Parallels in the Performing Arts
This morning as I was driving to the gym in my trusty Toyota Prius, listening to the CD “Duetto” (Alvarez & Licitra, Sony Classical, 2003) which is Italian vocal classics sung by tenor voices in duet. As I listened, I was thinking about my experiences watching, listening, practicing, rehearsing or performing as a member of the vocal, instrumental, and sports organizations I have been associated with over the years. Specifically, I wondered how many business leaders who are responsible for leading employee engagement have had an experience like that. So for those of you who have, do you know what I mean and why it should be relevant to business leadership?
Alright, how does this work? Well, let’s take the example of a large choral ensemble (I’ve been in several so I like this paradigm). Like a business (yes, it indeed could be a music performance business), the choral group has a mission: excellent musical execution; it has a vision: providing its audience with inspiration and pleasure; it has organizational structure and culture: eight voice divisions (1st and 2nd Sopranos, Altos, and Tenors, plus the Baritones and Basses) each made up of multiple/diverse individuals numbering some 40 to 400 plus or minus; and the chorus has a leadership roles, in the person of the conductor as well as eight Section Leaders, an individual who provides the musical accompaniment (even if it’s an a cappella chorus this is true for practice sessions) and in some cases they also have a business manager in a leadership role. So, do we have some parallels between a vocal chorus and a business organization here?
Now, without over burdening everyone with a lot of details, let’s just say that, to be a successful choral ensemble, all the performers and leaders have to be engaged in the delivery of the performance, must literally be on the same page as their conductor and accompanist, have to remain focused on the results throughout, and cannot lose the passion of projecting their mission to their audience. This happens consistently in successful choral performance. So how is it produced and what can we learn?
I believe the answer, in several key words that should sound familiar, is:
Have you ever run into leaders who expect passion and productive strategic engagement to just happen, and then hold others accountable for the success or failure of engagement, judging level of engagement by the level of agreement instead of with objectivity?
By Michael Sacco, MBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Stratalyne Business Solutions LLC
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