Music and Management

Music can be a great metaphor for smart business making; Business that puts the process in similar importance to the end result; Business that puts experimentation and quest as its highest priority; Business that gives a place for risk and failure, not only for safe success. Business that looks for colorful interpretations among its employees and strives for constant development.
There is a lot one can learn about silent leadership from music making and conductors’ work. In music, one often works in teams: duos, trios, quartets, as well as larger groups such as orchestras. Players must communicate with one another on stage without the basic and familiar verbal exchange. Everything must be done by different means. How can we take these insights into the leadership world and what does a performer on stage share with a top manager?

The real music we make is not by speaking, but by our nonverbal communication. A sigh of a tired salesman will make one leave a store. Intentional coughing may indicate if our manager is in favor of the proposal or not.

The real problem in western society is that we are not taught how to listen carefully to those nonverbal ”vocalizations”. We are much rather taught and paid to talk, sell, manage and be rational. Deep inside we still believe that listening cannot have the same substantive effect.

People who learn sales and management are guided to listen to their employees, but do not necessarily listen to their inner selves first.

When you make music and learn piano, for example, you are obliged to listen to yourself first. You correct yourself in real time. You fix the tempo, the dynamics, and the rhythm. Only then, after hours of self-preparation and individual reflections, can one go and work with his or her musical partner. It’s the shared process of self-realization and team work that makes music making so relevant for management training.

Music is not about notes. It’s about life. We are all composers in our genes. We make music, even if we can’t admit it. We talk in a certain music, we sell with a certain music. We say “NO” in various musical ways. Yet we are highly trained how to talk, read and write and so little trained how to listen attentively and carefully like musicians. It’s the Listening that musicians can teach managers to train themselves with.

However, there are many more aspects to be included. Both performers and leaders are confronting people in real time – whether they are live audiences or employees. When we deal with people in real time, we will inevitably have surprises, embarrassment and even inconvenience. We can prepare a piece of music by heart, or the best speech or presentation, but there is never an “insurance” when we deal with live circumstances. Things can easily go wrong and the art is to know how to follow and keep going. It is the secret of knowing to adjust to new circumstances, turn towards new paths, be flexible and convert a disadvantage to an advantage, just like a great improviser. It was Miles Davies, the great Jazz player, who once said: “Do not fear mistakes. There are none”. He knew how to turn a “wrong” performance into a new opportunity for live communication.

Music and Business-making share many aspects both on “stage” and behind the curtains. They share the need to convince others and to leave a stamp behind their art. How to lead a meaningful process and attain great performance results are their core undertakings.

In this fascinating series of lectures/ workshops participants will be exposed to a variety of international musicians, including Dr. Orit Wolf. They will share in live performances their challenges, methods and secrets to be applied to the world of management and entrepreneurship.

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