Music plays a big part in our lives, especially in the summer, when we are more likely to enjoy concerts outdoors and encounter street musicians. There's nothing quite as sublime as listening to your favorite music track while lounging in the shade on a hot afternoon.
I love jazz, both because of the sheer joyous mood it puts me in and because of the enjoyment I get out of listening to the technical collaboration of various instruments and voices. It amazes me that it all comes out sounding coherent. . . and beautiful.
It strikes me that organizations are like a jazz combo, with everyone having an important part to play and/or sing. While some are best suited to being soloists—out there, meeting one-on-one with clients—their contributions would likely not be maximized without support of the other musicians who lend their artistry and energy to the finished piece.
This is my way of reminding leaders that every contribution to an endeavor is valuable and integral to success.
Leadership is everyone’s business. As Kouzes and Posner tell us in The Leadership Challenge, leadership is not about position and power, it’s about relationships. If you are in a position to influence others, you are an important leader and what you do matters. When you employ the five leadership practices—modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, encouraging others’ hearts, and yes, even challenging processes when appropriate—those around you want to work with you and follow your example. They want to be productive and make an impact on the organization.
Playing music together is no different. Whatever part you play in an ensemble, whether you’re the lead singer or a collaborator on rhythm or harmony, you share responsibility for the quality of the outcome. From simple jam sessions to concert performances, playing your best creates the sounds everyone enjoys.
So, as the various sounds of summer surround us, I ask: As a leader, are you doing everything you can to ensure that beautiful music is being created at your workplace?
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