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I enjoyed Roger Nierenberg’s book, Maestro, very much. He uses a conductor’s way of seeing his role as a lens through which to view leadership. Surprised by the professional orchestra’s ability to play well without the conductor, the author is intrigued to know why this leader is even needed, what difference his presence makes, if any, and how.
Surprise number two is how much difference the conductor does make when he returns to lead the orchestra from his podium. “…he has been given the authority to lead. His job is to create success. It really falls upon him to stretch his reality until it encompasses that of the players, too.” The conductor must “live his own dream” of the music, help the dream of the composer come to life, and remain keenly aware of and responsive to the music as it is actually being played in the moment.
He summons his ideal through his baton in each moment’s lived response to the actuality of the music. This lively mutuality, this combination of the players’ competence to play independently with their submission and responsiveness to his authority, makes the difference between mediocrity and brilliance, better and best performance.
I can’t help wishing for more of this mutuality in Church leadership.
If the conducting is merely affirming what the players are already doing, it amounts to little more than cheerleading.
A quick, worthwhile read for leaders, parents, music buffs.