Learning to Lead


My wife and I were in Sydney, Australia, and we had an opportunity to attend a performance of the Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra at the famed Opera House… When we arrived thirty minutes early, the orchestra members were already warming up… As they warmed up, the music sounded like noise to me.

At one minute before eight the conductor walked onto the stage. Immediately everybody sat up straight. As he stepped onto the riser, everybody came to attention. At eight o’clock he raised the baton, and when his arms came down, the music started. What had been noise a few seconds earlier became a beautiful melody.

The orchestra leader had converted a team of all-stars to an all-star team… No one instrument dominated any other; rather, each harmonized with and became part of the others.

The conductor had, for a number of years, been a musician in an orchestra. He had learned to be obedient and follow the orchestra conductor when he was a performer. In short, he had learned to obey so that later he could command.

I once saw a young man with a T-shirt emblem proclaiming, “I follow no one.” What a tragedy! Because until he learns to follow, he will never be able to lead.

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