I am watching and listening to many different high school choir groups and ensemble’s in a regional county competition attending as a proud parent. During the various sets I have observed different leaders stepping forward. Of course, there is the director, he or she is providing guidance, pacing, and leading from the heart and mind. But it is up to the singers (the “team”) to deliver the solution, the results. During one section within a group piece there was a quartet of soloists and this blended group sang in counterpoint to the larger group. As one soloist finished and stepped back into the group as the quartet began to sing, I watched a different member gave silent guidance to the soloist to bring her voice from the one voice back to the blended voice and it was subtle, masterful. I watched another group with one section that was struggling and suddenly one member in that section reached out to either side and as their hands clasped their energy grew to become an integral part of the greater sound and the result was powerful.
How do you define leadership? It doesn’t have to have a title, it doesn’t need to be based in hierarchy and organizational structure. Leaders have many different and changing strengths but as I watched this afternoon I noticed several common characteristics and I invite you to think of those people you consider a leader.
No matter the situation I observed people displaying empathy that created a level of trust, others knew the concern was around the person and not the process (or song!). The feelings, guidance, and direction being provided was clear and consistent, at no time was anyone not aware of what was needed or expected. There was constant communication in multiple formats and I must stress the power of non-verbal techniques in providing feedback and support. When there was a disturbance from an energetic audience member I watch a director gain control quickly by moving around the stage and showing a high degree of flexibility and humor demonstrating the ability to see the good and model the behavior needed to keep moving forward.
A recent post, 7 Traits of Highly Effective Leaders, added several personal characteristics I did not see immediately but have encountered with people I admire to this day, the ones I would still be willing to go work for. These included the ability to:
- inspire action
- be optimistic
- have integrity
- support and facilitate the team
- have confidence
- be decisive
So, what is leadership? Who is a leader? I believe we all have the skills needed to lead. We can develop and hone the competencies and qualities necessary for success and in the workplace of today where teams are fluid, separated by time and distance, and have different needs by every different project. A leader is someone that brings to the team and to each person the level of support needed for success. It’s time to let your inner leader sing out!