The Art of Leadership

Last week I was in Chicago and visited the world’s largest and most respected maker of fine stringed instruments, William Harris Lee & Company. They make violins, cellos, and other instruments for professional musicians worldwide. Bill Lee started out making violins himself in 1978 and has grown the business becoming a highly-successful entrepreneur.
As I visited their various workrooms I couldn’t help but think of the art involved in creation of these fine instruments as well as the art of using the instruments to create the highest levels of fine music. I thought too of Peter Drucker’s notion of an orchestra conductor as a metaphor for a leader.
Like conductors, leaders need to know where they want to take their organizations. They know the strategy (the score) and the tempo and the dynamics of what to emphasize. They rely on each performer to know their jobs better than anyone else, including the leader.
The ‘art’ of leadership is bringing together highly-talented individuals, conducting the overall strategy, and having the skill to help them excel individually and to achieve collectively more than they thought possible. It requires a set of leadership skills as well as a body of specialized, technical, and managerial knowledge.

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