Monday evening I had the opportunity to witness a music lesson performance that I found to be truly astonishing and found myself thinking about how inspiring it would have been had every business owner or leader in our community been in that audience.
The Linn Mar Community Schools put on their Holiday Concert III, which consists of performances by their top Chamber Choir, Symphony Strings, and Wind Ensemble. There were 186 musicians in all and they were all decked out in their finest uniforms and the talent and performances of each group was incredible.
Except for one guy, Mr. Joshua Reznicow, Conductor of the Symphony Strings, who came out on stage in a suit, instead of a tuxedo, and said that he had always wanted to just hang out at a concert and see if his students could perform without direction and so he and the group had decided that this was the year they were finally taking the leap. Then he stepped down from the stage, came out into the audience and sat down.
For the next 30 minutes, 58 students, freshmen through seniors, performed four pieces at a level that I would never have dreamed possible, without ANY direction from their conductor. The only time he moved during the performance was to come back on stage to hand out All-State awards to 16 members of the Symphony, after which he went back to the audience and did not reappear.
He had explained at the opening that the idea was to see if the group could perform together if there was no conductor to lean on. They had taken six weeks to learn to play the music by watching and working with each other. There were different leaders that you could see members keying on at the start of a selection and then, if you watched closely, you could see leadership shift to various sections and individuals throughout each piece.
Not once did anyone get out of their seat while they were playing. Not once did it appear that anyone in that symphony was more important than anyone else. What was very obvious was that they were making frequent eye contact with one another and there was a lot of reading of body language happening to keep the group together.
I think it is important to understand that 16 of these musicians, over 25%, were Allstate performers, several for the third and final time. I am quite certain that they would have loved to stand and deliver a ringing solo at some point during the concert, but there were none. My guess is that they were given a choice: accept the individual accolades of their years of hard work or, be part of a team challenge and accomplishment that had never been achieved in the program before. Their choice speaks for itself.
So, without diminishing their amazing accomplishment by making comparisons to business, I challenge each of us to â€œtake a lessonâ€:
1. How many of us could leave our organization and have it deliver flawlessly to their customers under the most stressful of conditions?
2. How many of us have developed multiple leaders who are capable of stepping up to the plate and providing the kind of leadership that the team will respect and follow and have we identified them to the team?
3. If we do have leaders, do they work well together, respect one another, and share leadership or have we developed well-functioning teams within our organizations that do not work well with the rest of the teams?
4. Do we have leaders who will take advantage of their individual talent to further their own interests or are we confident that they will lead in the best interest of the organization ?
5. How many of us have the guts to give up our position, and the emotional satisfaction it brings, to step aside as the â€œconductorâ€ of our organization and let them lead?
Mr. Reznicow effectively had the courage to work himself out of a job, which makes him even more valuable to the organization than he would have been otherwise.
We have many large challenges ahead of us, many of which will require leadership and sacrifice. I think we are in good hands.
â€œAnd a little child shall lead us,â€ Isaiah 11:6. Merry Christmas!