The conductor is often the unsung hero of the office and social life. Conductors organise, cajole and hustle and, as their namesake, bring harmony into the team through structured, cooperation and collaboration. More concerned for everyone’s enjoyment than just their own, they thrive on working with others. Taking part is more important than winning; they can glory in other’s success. Many of the world’s top leaders fit this style. Disciplined and organised, these leaders like to keep accurate performance records and seldom show-off.
Most leaders would like to be considered as conductors, concentrating their efforts on bringing the symphony together in perfect harmony towards a particular goal. These leaders empower others and seldom take centre-stage in public view (like an orchestral conductor, they have their back to the audience and their guidance focused on their team.)
Leaders: Charles Heimbold, Carol Bartz, Elizabeth Dole, Ralph Larsen, Bill Marriot
How to develop the Conductor Leader
Practice, humility and practice.
Often, these leaders draw on others competence because they don’t have it themselves! Is that such a bad thing? My mother used to tell me that “it takes a real man to know when to ask for help”.
Actually, one of the best snippets of advice she could ever have given me. Whenever I struggled with doing something, I would feel some pride in asking for the help of those more capable than I.
It helped me to firstly become a good team player and later, a decent leader.
In my early career, I trained as a Chef (yes and I still cook and yes I am pretty good, and yes, you bring the wine and I’ll cook for you). Where was I? Oh yes, the kitchens. Perhaps I should mention that I am not good at pastry. My croissants are solid masses of dough and butter that can (and have) cracked floor tiles!
Does that mean I cannot run a kitchen? No, it means that if I want to serve guests with delectable deserts and breads, that I need to work with someone who’s hands are cooler and has the knack of getting the ingredients properly balanced.
Later I trained in Hotel Management. Some departments suited my skills better than others. Accounting is a no-no for me. I can do it, I just get incredibly bored and thus rush and thus make mistakes. However, give me the chance to chat with someone… I’m your man!
As a leader, I learned how to draw from the strengths of others. Knowing who had the technical competence to do particular tasks and who had the right behavioural competencies to best serve customers.
However, keeping everyone in play effectively and without workaholic effort does mean that, as in an orchestra, we need good, solid section leaders. Otherwise this character can quickly slip back to being a conjuror.