Respect and Alignment
Leadership Lessons from the Orchestra
At a recent concert, I was sat in the middle of the first violin section of my local Symphony Orchestra playing pieces by Tchaikovsky, Walton and Dvorak. If you’ve ever been to watch an orchestra at a live event you’ll know there are some rather fun and somewhat antiquated elements of etiquette to understand, such as not clapping between movements of a concerto or symphony (you have to wait to the end of the whole piece), clapping at the end of the concert while the conductor and any soloists walk out and back in again a few times, and so on.
I’ve grown up playing in orchestras so it’s second nature for me, but I remember chatting with a friend who came to a concert I was playing in for the first time about her embarrassment at being “one of the few who clapped” after the first movement of a rather splendid piano concerto.
One of the curiosities is that after the entire orchestra has assembled ready to start there are two key members of the orchestra missing; the conductor and the “leader”. The leader of the orchestra is the principal violinist who is sat at the front of the first violin section and is second-in-command of the orchestra, and they receive a clap all of their own as they take their place as a mark of respect, in addition to the applause give to the conductor and any soloists who may be performing.
Making sure your bowing is synchronised.
Among the many duties that the leader has, one is to decide on the bowing to be used throughout the performance, and during rehearsals you can see the other violinists marking their music to reflect the bowing the leader has decided to use. The benefits of consistent bowing are both musical and visual; somehow it looks so much more professional when all of the bows are aligned and going in the same direction at the same time.
I know that in one particularly tricky and exposed passage that we were playing in the first violins during that concert the leader was the only one actually playing the right notes, and she sure did earn our respect and gratitude right there that day!
Generally, respect is something that takes a long time to earn, and unfortunately much less time to lose. Unfortunately, there are too many ways that can cause a leader to lose respect from others, and the headlines are inevitably filled with an endless stream of those affected by them.
There are many ways that a leader may gain the respect of others and thus to bring the team into alignment, and these are not all solely about leadership ability. If a leader relies on ability alone then their leadership potential will be severely restricted. In addition to leadership ability, here are six of the most effective ways that leaders are able to gain respect from others.
- Give Respect: showing respect for others first, whatever their position or power,
- Transparency: willingness to own it when things go wrong, as well as when they go right,
- Commitment: being prepared to accept the same conditions as your team,
- Courage: working hard to do the right thing, even at the risk of failure,
- Loyalty: sticking with your team until the job is done, and
- Add Value: adding value to others by encouraging and recognising their accomplishments.
The simple fact of the matter is that people naturally align themselves to follow the vision and the mission of the leaders they respect.
“When people respect you as a person, they admire you. When they respect you as a friend, they love you. When they respect you as a leader, they follow you.”~ John Maxwell
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.