Leadership and All That Jazz

Posted by Tom Locke on January 6th, 2011 filed in Business, Life, Music

In 2008 I was exposed to a very creative approach in identifying effective leadership through music; specifically, jazz.  This entertaining approach strikingly supported some research brought out in recent articles in the Harvard Business Review.

My introduction to this leadership metaphor came during a luncheon where no words were spoken and a jazz trio played in the background while we ate.  At the conclusion of our meal and the jazz trio’s set, we were ask to reflect on their play as it related to effective leadership.

In summary, per pianist Monty Alexander, “Jazz, at its best, is a situation in which participants willingly support each other, working together as one, each player bringing virtuosity, optimism, mutual respect, good will, and the desire to make it feel good.”

Brian Fraser, the founder of “Jazzthink” (www.jazzthink.com) goes on to write that the job of the leader of the group is to make sure all these things are aligned to create the greatest possible potential for a great performance.  Responsibility for the performance lies with all the participants, but responsibility for alignment lies with the leader.  That’s what enables others to act most effectively.  As Jim Collins and Jerry Porras once said in the Harvard Business Review, performance is 1% vision and 99% alignment.

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