Leadership: An Art of Possibility
Boston Philharmonic conductor Ben Zander's leadership style flies in the face of many traditional leadership concepts. He believes a leader's job is to make others powerful.
Ben and Roz Zander believe that life is a story we tell, so we can personally invent our own story and tell it in any way we like.
Ben Zander been has the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra since its inception in 1979 and is renowned across the world for his talent in bringing out the best in musicians. His leadership strategies fly in the face of the traditional leadership style of the all-powerful leader who leads his troops to victory. Zander believes in an inside out approach to leadership. He defines the leader's job as one of possibility. He believes a leader's job is to make others powerful. Zander defines several main points when discussing the role of a leader.
A New Way of Being.
Zander believes that leaders need to create a connection rather than a division, call up passion rather than fear and have a vision that has no limits. A leader exists to make others more powerful. If a leader calls up passion and confidence in the people he leads then the leader himself will be successful.
Avoid the downward spiral of negative thinking and always talk about possibility. So often we get caught up in talking about what's wrong with our situation. Avoid this at all costs and talk about the great heights you can reach. This positive thinking is contagious and uplifting. The power of the mind makes the possibilities a reality.
Remember Rule #6
Zander tells a story about rule #6 where a prime minister watches another leader tell his staff time and time again to remember rule #6 when they came in the room flustered and upset. Each time they became calm and left the room without a word. Rule #6 - don't take yourself too seriously! We all do it, but it can have a negative spiral in an organization.
Enroll Each Voice in the Vision
Ben puts a blank piece of paper on the stand of every musician at every rehearsal and invites them to make any suggestions they would like. He empowers them and gives them a voice in the vision. He talks self-depreciatingly about how a conductor is the only one in an orchestra that makes no sound and that the blank pieces of paper remind him that he is not the center of the universe.
Look for Shining Eyes
Are the eyes of the people you lead "shining" or are they simply accepting what you have to say? You need to constantly ask yourself - is my presence enlivening people and making them passionate about being part of the spirit of possibility or are you shutting them down? A leader needs to be an inspirational force committed to the "aliveness" of people.
Voice in the Head
Everyone knows that voice. The voice that tells us we can't do something and that we're not good enough. A leader needs to remind people that the voice can also speak to possibility in a positive way. We control the voice. The voice does not control us. Let the voice tell us that we can do it.
Everyone Gets an "A"
Give your people a possibility to live into rather than a standard to live up to. On the first day of class in the fall, Zander asks his students to imagine they got an "A" at the end of the year and write an essay about all the great things they did to get that "A". He gives them that possibility to live into. The students live in this passionate, positive world of possibility throughout the year.
The art of possibility is a different way of looking at leadership and it takes a change in mindset to realize its potential. For most of history artists have rarely spoken to leaders of business or government about leadership, but as we see through Ben Zander they have a powerful voice that can help us understand how to bring out the potential in people. The Ben Zander video Leadership: An Art of Possibility is a inspirational program that can transform the thinking any organization.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RJ Sullivan is a writer and producer of motivational training videos for TrainingABC. TrainingABC is a distributor of motivational programs such as Celebrate What's Right with the World and Give em the Pickle.