Conducting your business

What businesses can learn from orchestras

After watching the New York Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra perform, it always amazes me how one person out of more than 100 on stage who plays no instrument at all, the conductor, is so essential to the creation of beautiful music.

A great conductor has many attributes that make this a reality. First, he or she must know the subject and every note of music extremely well, and envision how all instruments should sound together. He or she must anticipate and set the tone for each contributing musician, and communicate and inspire others to bring out the highest level of performance. He or she must convey the vision for a piece of music so that each musician understands his or her role and plays in harmony with others.

For the conductor, the goal is to weave the raw talents of the musicians together to achieve something that cannot be attained individually.

Let the musicians play

Orchestras and businesses both need leaders who bring talents together. They can either weave creative, hard-working people together to create a success, or deconstruct effective teams through poor coordination, bad timing or assigning people to roles that aren’t best suited to their strengths.

Thinking like an orchestra conductor can help business leaders bring the most out of the people they lead. For example:

  • Leave the playing to the musicians. As the business conductor, you may be capable of doing the work, but that is no longer your role. Allow others to develop the product, author the marketing plan or keep the books. Your job is to envision how all the roles fit together.
  • Lead and direct the group. See that the people in various roles are brought in on cue and appreciate the importance of their performance on the overall score, thus inspiring them to play with passion.
  • Anticipate and create harmony. Make sure the players with the right talents are brought in to play the appropriate roles at the right time.
  • Make it a special experience. No one wants to feel as if they are simply completing a task. Instead, make your team realize they are doing something remarkable: performing in a way no other team can. No matter how seemingly insignificant an individual’s role, each is essential.

Lead the way

A great orchestra performance takes more than having a number of musicians play the right notes or strike the cymbals in unison. It requires vision, effective interpretation of the score and communication. An effective business may benefit from the same. Both jobs require coaxing individual talent to passionately perform as one cohesive unit and strive for the players to believe they are participating in an experience that is only achievable when everyone plays their part. So pick up your baton and lead the way!

Anthony Margida is CEO of Akron Global Business Accelerator, a National Business Incubator Association Innovation Award winner. AGBA currently serves 38 technology-based startups and has created 640 jobs for Northeastern Ohio in the last five years.