I often feel privileged to work for the clients I serve. I am also very fortunate to count on exceptionally gifted partners coming from such different backgrounds as academia, psychology, consultancy, business, military or arts.
Nick McRoberts is one of my partners. His original education is in classical music (as a conductor). He still follows regularly master classes and directs philharmonic orchestras around the world. Not so long ago, we were running a workshop for 50 of the outstanding “ChampionShip Leaders”, of a French firm called DCNS. Those leaders are active change “viral ambassadors” and I call them outstanding as I have a tremendous respect for those who take personal risks and commit an incredible amount of energy in promoting change in a passionate way. During the workshop we had the impression that some of those “viral leaders” were also somewhat anxious… Anxious to see the turnaround take place, anxious to build a sustainable future for their firm, anxious to do what is right for their people.
Nick suddenly disappeared and came back minutes later with a powerful metaphor inspired by his “other passion”… On the first clip, he projected one of the highlights of his young and promising career: You see him conducting here the 1st Movement of Brahms’ First Symphony with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway.
By the end, our audience applauded in admiration. Nick shared that he was following Masterclasses since 10
years with Maestro Jorma Panula (who also coached Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic amongst many). “And what has been my Master’s feedback ever since I started working with him, including on this piece?: DO LESS”… Do less…”. Nick said.
When reflecting with Jorma Panula on what caused him to overdo his leadership act, Nick discovered that the most probable reason for it: although Nick was obviously enthusiastic, engaged and concentrated, he probably was thinking “What value am I actually adding? They know this piece as well as me and they’ve played it 60 times!”. Therefore, Nick assumed it useful to mark his territory and be noticed and supportive by being present, engaged and… gesticulating too much for the Master’s taste…
In the room, we all felt this was probably an exaggeration from the old conductor, so, Nick reminded us how venerated the great Master conductor Leonard Bernstein was. And he invited us to watch, in a religious silence the extraordinary piece here below:
With minimal mimics, hands and stick under his arms, Bernstein conducts an outstanding orchestra who performs in an exceptional manner. Our audience commented this rare piece and great insights came out:
- Leonard Bernstein is very present and engaged with his team. He is not abandoning them. Devolving is not abdicating
- By his humble posture, the Maestro unleashes the energy of his orchestra. Faced to such an unusual gesture of trust and respect, the team will do their utmost to prove their leader right
- The team and their leader are intellectually and emotionally “in sync” and aligned on a shared, superior Purpose
- Leonard Bernstein presents us with a formidable and counterintuitive challenge: How to do only the essential –eliminate all the excessive energy and arm waving- to truly provide conditions for others to be their best…
Nick and I wanted to share this, as we see so many of you, taking on courageously heavy responsibilities and… the stress and anxiety that goes with such missions. Leonard Bernstein, in all his wisdom and experience provides us with a marvelous, efficient and engaging example of leadership attitude and I now remember him every morning before work.
On my way to São-Paulo for a series of meetings, courses with the Fundação Cabral and to run away from the snow starting to fall in Villars… Have a great week,