Like music, when we engage in leadership, things may seem very disjoint and cacophonous but a deeper dive and growing familiarity reveals patterns that increase our understanding. It is patience and discipline in the analysis of both music and leadership that ultimately leads to greater success.
Leadership is thought by many people to be something that others do – not me. Our times, with advancing quality and length of life around the world, require a broader number of us to engage in leadership. All one has to do is look around to recognize that many of those who presume to “lead” are nearly incapable of leadership and that there are others with such deep humility that they would never accept that they offer leadership on a regular basis. My belief is that we need both more humility among “leaders” as well as audacity that invites others into leadership.
Learning about leadership can start through experience or through study, and ideally both. It is something that requires a depth of reflection and analysis much like the approach to learning a new piece of music – analysis, identification of patterns, and seeing both the immediate and big picture. Having been a formal student of leadership from 1976 to this day, I continue to read actively, observe others carefully, and reflect on my own experience to understand it. And it is almost always the deeper experiences, sometimes my own failure, that stimulate the greatest insight. Approaching leadership with a discerning eye that identifies patterns, hidden dynamics, similarities/dissimilarities to other experiences, and balances both small and big implications is almost always more successful than just forging ahead.
Working within a framework of critical analysis and discipline, we can achieve great artistry that embraces the nature of the question we seek to master, either a piece of music or a challenge in leadership. This artistry then becomes the ‘at home’ of who we are when we are our best selves in leadership – approaching the situation as nuanced, unique, and ripe with opportunity to make a difference. This authentic place is based on our acting out of our natural tendencies tempered with the awareness of our surrounding environment and its dynamics.