Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Clearly state desired outcome, then let people make it happen

Itay Talgam, in a Ted talk on leadership, shares short clips of various famous orchestral conductors. In one clip, he presents a very controlling conductor and he tells us that this conductor received a letter signed by all 700+ members of the orchestra that said, “you’re a great conductor. We don’t want to work with you. Please retire.”

Why? When we work under so much control, we can’t develop our own stories. And happiness at work (whether in an orchestra or in an office) "does not come from only (the leader's) own story. The joy comes from enabling other people’s stories to be heard at the same time."

Talgam tells of another conductor who says, "the worst damage I can do to my orchestra is give them clear instructions because that would prevent the ensemble, the listening to each other.”

How do leaders give clear instructions, but not so clear that they stifle their employees' development and commitment?

By ensuring the outcome he desires is clear, that his employees are trained and skilled enough to reach that outcome, and then by trusting and celebrating the way those employees choose to get there. At the very end of Talgam's talk, he presents a conductor who makes none of the typical conductor movements with his hands. He merely watches his orchestra play, his broad smile evidencing his pure enjoyment of their playing.

Talgam tells us, "do without doing."

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