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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Speaking recently on leadership and problem solving, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Benjamin Zander emphasises that everyone has options.
"You can face problems with resignation, anger or possibility. These are all valid responses. You have a choice." Choosing possibility isn't always easy, he notes, but it will lead to excellence. It will also lead to a challenging of assumptions -- and assumptions are often roadblocks to innovation.
"Everybody wants out of the box thinking; the question is, how do you get it?" says Zander. "It's very simple. You ask a question: What assumptions am I making that I don't know I'm making?" The key to success inside an organisation, he adds, has to do with voicing these assumptions. "Every organisation, every human endeavour, has to have someone whose job it is to notice what assumptions are being made ... and [who] has permission to say so. Anybody from the bottom to the top should be able to speak about assumptions without fearing loss of any kind."
When Zander's musicians make a mistake, he teaches them not to give in to the voice of doubt or self-recrimination. Instead, he has instructed his students to say "How fascinating!" whenever they make a mistake. To Zander, this means throwing up one's arms and exclaiming "How fascinating!" at top volume. His point: Every setback is an opportunity to learn. Every setback represents a world of possibility. "Education is not so much about the transference of information as the opening up of new categories," Zander notes. "When you are educated in that sense, you are actually walking in a different world. The question becomes, 'What are you going to do now?'".