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Dec 5, 2018

What lessons can we learn from a symphony orchestra? More importantly, what can a symphony conductor teach us about teamwork and leadership? Our special guest shares how we can enhance and develop our leadership skills by learning to lead with deeper listening skills.


Roger Nierenberg is a Symphony Conductor that has enjoyed long tenures as Music Director of both The Jacksonville Symphony and the Stamford Symphony. Roger is also the author of Maestro, which contains surprising messages about business leadership.


What does a symphony conductor do? A conductor is in charge of making the whole music piece, all the little different parts, coherent. They are in charge of taking big messages and simplifying them, and they help lay out the vision of the music so that the musicians can buy into it and follow it. All of this is translated by the simple movements of the baton.


In Roger’s process, first, he sets the tone for his business students so that they understand how an orchestra works. They come into a room where they sit right where the action is, inside the symphony orchestra, and find themselves side-by-side with the musicians.


Without any words spoken, the music begins and the students watch as Roger conducts. After the show, Roger explains that the orchestra is a metaphor for a well-run, successful organization. The funny thing is, Roger had only met with the orchestra an hour prior and they, too, had no idea what Roger was going to ask them to do until the baton was moving.


So many people are not musicians, so by structuring it in this way, students are able to fully comprehend and experience what it looks like to work together unscripted, in a flow, without trying to explain or converse. You are only using the power of observation and your listening skills to understand what it means to really work in sync.


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