Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Music Paradigm: Conducting Leadership Training

Managing Change With Music

I am really enjoying the 2009 Employers of Excellence Conference. Even though attendance is light due to the poor economy, the folks at have gone all out to make this a really innovative event. With only a few hundred attendees, many of them senior HR executives, it is a chance to interact in very small and intimate sessions.

Debbie McGrath, CEO of has invited a number of personal favorite speakers to present this year. Last night, I had a chance to participate in one the most unique conference events I have seen.

This was a presentation called The Music Paradigm: Leadership, Teamwork, and Managing Change. The Music Paradigm is an experiential learning event that utilizes a symphony orchestra as a metaphor for any dynamic organization, especially those dealing with a period of challenge or change, such as merger, restructuring, new leadership, and change initiatives. Participants are seated amidst the the musicians of a live professional orchestra.

I sat in the midst of musicians from the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra.

This program was developed and is conducted by Roger Nierenberg, a Julliard graduate, and former conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida, and the Stamford Symphony in New England. He was also recently featured in Fast Company.

Here are some learnings from that article:

Nierenberg, 54, whose day job is leading Connecticut's Stamford Symphony Orchestra, has created a program called "The Music Paradigm." He teaches managers at companies such as Georgia-Pacific and Lucent Technologies how to be better leaders by giving them a musician's-eye view of a conductor at work.

Here are a few lessons and observations from the maestro.
  • A leader is someone who commits to what hasn't happened yet

  • Don't blame the orchestra

  • Give people permission to be their best.

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