Taken with permission from David's blog, "...In the Meantime."
There are so many things I love about this TEDTalk by Benjamin Zander that it's hard to list them all. He's incredibly passionate, and funny, and warm, and engaging. That will be obvious within about two minutes. He's talking about music - and he does that very effectively - but he's also talking about so much more. If I were to boil it down, I think he's talking about what it means to be a leader and, perhaps most expansively, about what it means to be human.
There's a ton here. It's another video I often use in class and have seen numerous times and still learn something new each time. But since I can't cover everything, let me highlight briefly five things I particularly enjoyed. (I don't know if you want to read these before hand as a preview to his Talk or afterward to prompt reflection - or both. ).
1) Leaders should be absolutely confident that the people they lead can accomplish their vision. We tend to think everything rests on the leader, but of course the idea of a leader is absolutely ridiculous apart from a group of people who follow, who work, who share the dream, who brings things to pass. And perhaps the key element of a leader is that she or he has the capacity to instill in people the belief that they can, indeed, accomplish something. A leader, that is, is someone who empowers others to do great things.
2) Beliefs shape everything about your life. At one point, Zander asks, "How would you walk, talk, act, if you believe classical music lovers make up 3% of the population and our great hope and job is to get that number up to 4%?" (which, when you think about it, is a 33% increase!). But, in contrast, he asks, 'How would you walk, talk, act, if you believed everyone should love classical music?" Your beliefs - whether you recognize them or not - shape how you act.
3) Again,on leadership and the key role of empowering others, Zander mentions that when he realized that the conductor is the only one on the stage who doesn't make any sound everything about what he did changed. The conductor (and leaders generally) succeeds by getting others to perform at their very best. The mark of competence isn't that the leader does something well, but that everyone else does it better than they would without the leader. And you know you are doing this when you watch the people you lead. Watch, Zander urges, to see whether their eyes are shining - that is, they are delighting in their tasks and abilities. And if they aren't, then the question to ask - as a conductor, leader, parent - is who am I being and what am I doing that I am not making their eyes shine?
4) Leaders are only successful to the degree that others pay attention, listen, cooperate. After playing a piece of music, when the audience begins clapping Zander claps too, and then he asks why. The answer, as Zander shares, is because his audience was listening. Leadership is effective when it engenders cooperation, shared purpose, and participation.
5) Finally, and very powerfully, what would it be like if we lived so that we only spoke things that could be our last words to someone?
Again, there's so much here to ponder, imitate, and delight in. Enjoy!