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Leadership Minute

    Relationships: Changing Your Approach

R oger Nierneberg is well known as an orchestra builder and also the inventor of the highly successful educational leadership program involving conducting, called The Music Paradigm.

In The Daily Leader, a newsletter distributed to participants at the Linkage Global Institute for Leadership Development Conference in 2002, Nierneberg recalled a story of how his experience in conducting has transformed his leadership skills.

The Music Paradigm has transformed my leadership in so many ways. There is one story in particular that was a turning point for me as a conductor and leader. The larger instruments (i.e. double basses) take a longer time to produce a sound. These instruments tend to be slower and later than other instruments. As an inexperienced conductor, my immediate reaction was to tell them they were late this seemed like the fastest way to solve the problem. I did not solve the problem, but rather created another. I not only had a timing issue, but now I had an unhappy bass section because they were embarrassed and felt badly about their performance.

With experience, I addressed the problem in a different way by asking them to play earlier. I learned a valuable lesson through this request. By asking the bass section to play a leadership role by setting the tempo for the entire orchestra, their role was more active and engaged. I altered my relationship with the basses as well as their relationship with the rest of the orchestra. leadership now My bass section was happy and felt successful.


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