The Ignorant Maestro

Become the great conductor of your business.

Is this a fact or fiction: a business leader and an orchestral conductor have no similarities. Even though both positions may happen in two completely different environments and require different types of personalities, they do have a few similar characteristics, therefore, they deal with similar difficulties.

Itay Talgam has examined the world that is orchestral music, including its amazing, and not so amazing conductors, and the more crucial information being why they were so great. In “The Ignorant Maestro”, Talgram places everything that he learned in the business framework in order to bring forth new ideas on both innovation and leadership.

You will find out:

  • How come the makeup of of an orchestra is similar to that of a company
  • How come brilliant ignorance exists
  • The reason why both Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein were such amazing conductors

Company structures are like a symphony orchestra.

A symphony orchestra has a hundred players in it. This means that there are a hundred people that have the possibility of making lots of terrible sounds. That being said, when they work together, every player is able to make harmony, small changes, and best of all, sounds that arouse strong emotions.

Now, take into consideration a big company. One hundred staff members could make a complete mess out of any company. However, if they all work nicely together, they can boost profits and create a really smooth workflow along with a balanced workplace. In both businesses and orchestras, people need to work as a team in order to create something amazing.

Say, for instance, you play in the violin sector of an orchestra and you really want to sound good for the conductor who also happens to be your boss. You end up playing the best you ever have, but the conductor isn’t happy with you whatsoever. How come? The thing is, a violin sector filled with a bunch of show-offs isn’t exactly the recipe for a great performance.

A great performance happens when every single player in the violin sector is able to play in perfect unison, perfecting one another. The same thing would happen amongst a group of staff members if they figured out how to work all together rather than having worked on their own.

However, what they have in common doesn’t just stop at teamwork. In both businesses and orchestras, you’ll always find someone heading them. A department has got its head, a business has got its Chief Executive Officer, and an orchestra’s leader is the conductor. The role of a conductor is to signal the tempo with the help of their baton while giving cues to various instruments as well as let the orchestra know how loud they need to play or which emotion they need to try to relay.

In that aspect, the conductor is a really great parallel to a business leader. The conductor essentially doesn’t make anything, but it does guide the orchestra in order to create something. They don’t play an instrument, but they do guide all of the players that do so that way they’re all heading on the same road to the same goal.

Ignorance is brilliant when it enables new perspectives.

When you characterize someone as being ignorant, what is it that you’re truly trying to state? Most likely, you aren’t trying to compliment them. That being said, is ignorance only ever a negative characteristic?

When you’re ignorant, it doesn’t automatically mean that you aren’t smart. Just because you aren’t educated enough in one subject doesn’t mean that you can’t figure out topics from a completely different subject. There are times when a special type of ignorance is actually sought after.

Both a farmer and a scientist are very educated in their particular areas, however, they may not know much about one another's fields. Since we are able to have such a thorough understanding of one subject, it helps us show how we are totally able of learning new things, too. The thing is, ignorance can be looked at as a way of steering clear of things that we think we understand.

Even when we’ve got a lot of knowledge about something, we still need to keep on moving past that knowledge that way we can come up with fresh ideas as well as innovations.

Think about amazing teachers. They don’t shove their ideas down the throats of their students, but rather, a good teacher directs students through their ignorance, having them find the answers on their own.

Accepting that brilliant ignorance helps us be much more aware of everything that we aren’t aware of as well as all of the possibilities that are out there for us.

Take, for instance, Beethoven, who is commonly known as one of the best innovators of classical music. Even though he had only been trained in the music of that era, he really wanted to go above and beyond that knowledge. Often times, he was bantered as well as looked at as crazy for playing around with music. That being said, though, if he had never dared to put the norms for musical conventions to the side, he would have never become the incredible composer that everyone now knows him for today.

Identifying and exploring gaps leads to innovation.

Have you ever gone on the London underground and listened to the infamous intercom tell you to “mind the gap”? Well, what if actually, gaps aren’t supposed to be minded and steered clear of, but rather delved into? The gaps that come about in many different facets of life are actually non physical places that are free for analysis and new concepts.

Music is a great example of how gaps can be dealt with in various ways. If there weren’t any pauses, music would simply be notes on top of notes, coming together in a formless string of sound. In a lot of pieces, gaps come about from either unclear or not complete information about the composer’s actual reasonings behind the composition.

Instead of steering clear of gaps, musicians really take advantage of them in order to provide the piece with an area of mystery for interpretation, going through the excitement of new artistic potentialities.

New items can also make exhilarating gap experiences that drive motivation. Do you remember when the iPad came out? Many viewed it as nothing more than a large iPhone and lots had even made fun of it.

However, shortly after, developers as well as knowledgeable consumers started to use iPads in innovative ways including at home in the kitchen, in a classroom, or while they’re travelling. Now we understand that the gaps in the iPad’s use ended up producing an entirely new electronics section: the tablet market.

Gaps are also a great way to get us on the road to agreement. You may face a gap when you have to deal with a communication issue amongst teammates that look as if there’s no hope for solving them.

When you look at miscommunication in another way, for instance, by comparing your team to your family, a combat unit, or a shipwrecked crew, every teammate can get a better understanding of the disagreement and can start to see the gap in a different perspective. As a result, this will assist team members with seeing the circumstance from your teammate’s point of view, leading to a more united work process in the end.

If it seems like your team is steering clear of the gaps, it’s time for you to begin talking about it. However, there’s an important tool that you will need. Keep on reading to find out what it is.

Listening is the first step to opening up dialogue.

In our work, we have heard lots of tricks and techniques that that will get people to listen to what we have to say. Keynote speakers often have to stick to the classic maneuver of starting out their opening speech with a joke that’s been well prepared. However, based on all of the strategies that have been created to convince people to make sure they stay attentive, which ones can we ourselves use in order to be decent listeners?

A lot of the time, it looks as if we no longer know how to listen today. When we go to a keynote speech, we tend to me more concerned with whether the opinions of the speakers match our own, rather than concentrate about learning about other point of views.

It can be difficult to get out of that selective approach when it comes to listening, but in the end, it’ll totally be worth it. Indeed, if you put in a little bit more work into listening, it’ll help you out immensely when you’re trying to solve an issue.

The writer depicts this with the help of his father’s past experience working as senior judge at the Tel Aviv courthouse. He had been in the position during the prosecution of the Alpersons, one of Israel’s most infamous criminal families. They had been tried in the past, but the trial didn’t go anywhere due to the disruptions that the family would create inside the courtroom.

Therefore, the writer’s father decided to use another method; instead of getting the family to quiet down, he decided that he would listen to them. That made them feel much more respected, therefore, they ended up being a lot more cooperative. In the end, the result was less important than the family’s capability of keeping an active position throughout the ordeal.

Playing a part in the process and being listened to are imperative when you want to dive deep into the gaps of any industry. That being said, leaders may find it simpler to just take control of everything to eliminate all of that slow conversation. However, regardless of whether you’re a conductor or a CEO, that’s not the best route to take. Keep reading to find out why.

Some conductors lead without listening and without exploring gaps.

What ends up happening whenever leaders don’t work alongside their team, completely disregarding any new ideas? A lot of conductors take on this leading style that is founded off of that type of command and controls, including Riccardo Muti.

The leader of the acclaimed La Scala opera in Milan, Muti is well known for his stern ways and aversion to have anything left to chance. In other words, there’s only one way in his world and that’s his way. However, since he didn’t leave any open gaps for understanding, he never succeeded in creating a united relationship with the orchestra. That working relationship had gradually fallen apart until the orchestra had stated that they were no longer confident in Muti. As a result, he ended up losing his position.

When having a tight reign over every single part and then denying the concept that there’s always more room to learn and grow, there’s a big change that leaders won’t succeed in creating an agreement between themselves and the group that they’re leading.

However, a leader that’s a control freak is the only kind that can dismiss gaps. Let’s take a look at another conductor that had a completely different kind of control problem.

Richard Strauss may be recognized as one of the best composers of the late romantic period, having created the operas Der Rosenkavalier as well as Elektra. Even though he is known for being a great conductor, Strauss had to deal with another kind of control problem in comparison to Muti’s.

Strauss only ever played by the book, literally. He would remain so focused on the sheet of music staring right at him, even during the times when the compositions were his own, meaning he essentially knew them inside and out. Since there had been no room for interpretations in the orchestra, there also wasn’t any space for innovation.

What can we take away about leadership from that? We need to choose someone else to carry out a plan that we had come up with on our own. As a result, there will be a greater chance for new interpretations to occur, resulting in innovation as well.

Some conductors explore gaps and create dialogue.

If you’d like to understand how conductors create the things that they do, you need to become aware of two in particular: Herbert von Karajan as well as Leonard Bernstein. The both of them were experts at getting their orchestras to channel the strength of gaps.

For 35 years, Herbert von Karajan had been the leader of the Berlin Philharmonic. During that time, he was able to raise the orchestra to new levels.

How did he do it? He reversed some things.

On the contrary of bringing the baton down every beat in a bar, von Karajan was well-known for making a gentle upward movement. This made the gap that was needed in order for musicians to keep continuous communication with one another.

The musicians reacted to this by figuring out how to indicate the beat across the entire group; they ended up moving their entire bodies as they played! This made a very strong communicative relationship inside the orchestra. Since then, the Berlin Philharmonic has become a very tight-knit group of performers that are known across the globe as the best orchestra.

Leonard Bernstein used an innovative method very similar to that one when he was a conductor. One of the best conductors of the 20th century, Bernstein had a very interesting approach with how communication happened from every player in the orchestra. He felt that each one of them should feel as if they had their own voice instead of feeling as if they were merely the tools necessary to bring his vision to life.

How did he accomplish that? He did so by creating a warm place where every person felt good about talking to one another.

When Bernstein was set to play Mozart at the Vienna Philharmonic, he had come dressed up in traditional Austrian attire and even learned a few Austrian phrases. One of the first things that he had told the players was how fortunate he felt being able to listen to them and learn from them how to play Mozart.

Those players in the orchestra had felt comfortable with Bernstein right away, which had gotten their work relationship off on the right foot.

Final Summary

Don’t steer clear of the gaps, but rather take advantage of them! Both conductors and orchestras have found some useful leadership styles that enhance interpretation and good conversations, which you can utilize yourselves to have the same results. When you learn to listen to your teammates and show them that you are confident in them, you will be able to establish working relationships that let your business work just as smooth as a Philharmonic performance.

Practical advice:

Run in the opposite direction of routine!

Routines are what are used to close up gaps, so since gaps are where you’d like to be in order to find new ideas and perspectives, you want to stay away from routine. On the contrary of thinking about the person that cleans your office as a cleaner, think about what it is that you could learn from them. Really dig deep into the gaps of how the both you see the work being done inside the office, the kind of spirit that’s shown, or even the lack thereof it, and so much more.