The orchestra as a leadership metaphor

17 Feb

Leadership develops and is practiced in context.  Understanding the context is essential to becoming an effective leader.    It is also a way to understand your current work environment.

Peter Drucker noted companies are like orchestras.  An orchestra has four essential components:

• People

• Instruments

• Music

• Conductor

People are the greatest asset of any organization.  Without high performing people a high performing organization is impossible.  These people must have the tools and training to do their jobs.  Assuring these are in place is one role of leadership.  Leadership also chooses the music.  Finally, all the elements of the orchestra must be playing the same music.  The music is the vision, mission and purpose of the organization made explicit through its strategies and tactics.  Finally what holds this together and makes it work is the Director.

Consider your organization.  Rate each component on a scale of 1 – 5 where one is outstanding and five is very poor.  As you rate each element list the reasons for your rating.  You have just performed a simple yet powerful organizational analysis.  If this is process is carried out individually by a management team or a sample of key managers and/or employees you can produce a matrix that accurately reflects the functioning of your organization.  This is a valuable tool to begin a conversation about your job satisfaction as well as how your organization is performing.

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