4 Leadership Lessons from Orchestra Conductors


Written by Burt Braunius /
December 14, 2015

Tis the season… for Christmas concerts.

So far during this Christmas season, my wife and I have attended at least eight Christmas concerts. While blessed by these merry musical feasts, I am also amazed by the leadership skills of the conductors and directors. It is especially fascinating to observe the relational dynamics of conductors with their musicians. Following are leadership lessons from conductors that are based on an article in entrepreneur.com*

Leadership Lesson 1: Have a clear vision.

An orchestra conductor has a clear vision for each piece of music, both tangible and intangible… the conductor will have their personal vision of how the performance should sound, the emotional interpretation of the music and, for me, the intangible vision.

Leadership Lesson 2: Establish roles and responsibilities.

Every single orchestra in the world is rooted in clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The conductor will often be a musician… , but they don’t step in and actually play an instrument. They remain on the podium and align the rest of the players…

Leadership Lesson 3: Provide coaching and feedback.

A conductor is not just there to keep everyone on time. They also act as the team coach, working to get the best out of each individual and the collective performance of the orchestra. They provide encouragement when needed (especially if there is a particularly challenging section in the music), and direction/redirection as needed –play faster, slower, quieter, louder and so forth.

Leadership Lesson 4: Lead from the front and be visible.

The conductor stands on a podium so everyone in the orchestra can see them… The conductor doesn’t worry about looking silly waving their arms about… They provide the appropriate visual cues, not because they don’t trust us to count the bars of rest (silence) in all our parts, but because they have our backs and want to ensure our performance is as good as it can be.”

How these leadership lessons apply to church ministry.

Application begs to be made here about leadership principles for leadership in ministry. Areas of application may include the following.

1. Leaders understand and are constantly articulating the vision of the church or organization.

2. Participants are to be guided in knowing and exercising their roles and responsibilities.

3. Mentoring, coaching and other supportive relationships build confidence and competency among team members.

4. Leaders need to be comfortable with being persons who have visibility and responsibility for their teams, committees, and organizations.

With effective leadership, ministry groups make beautiful music together. Church Leadership Center creates training plans, develops courses, and provides learning experiences and management of participants, mentors, and facilitators. Contact us for more information about ways that we may provide support for you and your church or ministry.

See: 4 Leadership Lessons Learned from Orchestra Conductors by Morag Barrett, http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246194

Photo credit: Rob Swystun / Foter.com / CC BY

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