What Business Leaders Can Learn from Conductors

“When I was 15 and a music student, I was given the opportunity to try conducting. It was a big classical work to be played by a professional orchestra. I still feel to this day the moment when I lifted my hands and the magnificent sound poured forth. I was hooked.”

When I heard the conductor’s story I thought about the many great business leaders we’ve known and admired. They assemble the right people with the right instruments and when they lift their hands, great companies pour forth.

You, the small or mid-market business owner, can do the same.

Here are the baker’s dozen ways you can conduct your company to make great music pour forth:

  1. Have an inspiring vision. What do you want all of your stakeholders to achieve?
  2. Make it your mission to help all stakeholders thrive.
  3. Assemble the right people for the mission.
  4. Value commitment and passion ahead of degrees or past experience.
  5. Encourage imagination, not compliance.
  6. Give the spotlight to individuals at various times.
  7. Appreciate that variations in rhythm makes a company stronger.
  8. Just as an orchestra has a concertmaster and first instrument positions, make sure your company has multiple leaders.
  9. Give your buyers what they value the most, PLUS a few unexpected treats they may not know they want.
  10. Run your business as a dialogue between the company and its audience.
  11. Don’t fall back on “this is the way we’ve always done things.”
  12. Discordant notes can be powerful when they’re deliberate and organized.
  13. Lead with joy: the joy of creation, the joy of sharing your passion with your audience of buyers, the joy of helping your people bring beauty and value to the world.

Pick one or two of these tips and focus on them for the next three weeks. See how your company improves quickly. Then try another 1 or 2. As I’ve written, achieving a series of small goals adds up to big accomplishments over a year’s time.

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