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Baton Leadership Lessons From LA Philharmonic Conductor Dudamel

by Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

Self Improvement Articles

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Published on this site: December 24th, 2010 - See more articles from this month



Imagine a crusty group of seasoned professionals standing, applauding and cheering a 28 year-old leader who has turned a same-old-same-old product into something fresh and exciting! This does NOT happen-particularly when the professionals are members of the Israel Philharmonic. But under the baton of young Maestro Gustavo Dudamel, orchestra members did just that.

Now, Southern California music lovers are witnessing the same magic of a man who started as a tot playing in El Sistema, the publicly funded program for children in Venezuela. Talk about team work. Talk about taking an old product like Beethoven's Fifth and turning it into something that has the young and old talking. Dudamel is entering his second season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the fall of 2010, beginning his twelfth year as Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and his fourth season with the Gothenburg Symphony.

In a recent interview, Dudamel's leadership genius jumped off the page as something that leaders in all industries can practice.

The secret: love the music and the musicians who play it!

Dudamel makes every player a star, asking them to play their best and then-just a little more and still more. He is a persistent and disciplined communicator. This means he delivers the same message, evoking over and over again the possibility of amazing outcomes and a belief in the individual strength of each player that only become better when joined with others.

He uses the power of words to express the results he seeks. It's not the language of the bottom line and shareholder return, but rather words that turn a symphony into human terms: blood, meat, happiness, magic. Every player can sense an emotional component to the end result. Imagine what would happen if leaders could translate a product or a service into something that resonates emotionally with team members. I can make a case for software technicians as surely as a team of surgical nurses.

According to close observers, Dudamel's eyes radiate joy and energy when working with the orchestra. He admits that having fun with the "product" and the players is what allows him to create a musical experience that brings the "buyers" of the product and the "makers" of the product to their feet.

Fun. Energy. Joy. These aren't words that one normally associates with work. Results without joy, fun (however one defines it) and energy create a disengaged workforce and a perfunctory leadership style.

In a competitive arena, where every orchestra can select the same product, imagine the difference a great leader makes. It's why lines formed to buy tickets for Dudamel's first concert in October in Los Angeles. What would happen when lines formed to buy a company's product or service because the leader's behavior showed the world that he loved the "music" and the "musicians" who made it?

Let the trumpets swell on that final note!

© 2010, McDargh Communications.



Eileen McDargh: Leadership expert and professional speaker, Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE, is an award-winning business author and a consultant to national and international organizations. Eileen shares tools and techniques to help others meet their professional and personal goals. Visit http://www.eileenmcdargh.com to read her frequently updated blog, register for her free quarterly newsletter, read her articles and purchase her books and other products.

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