Can politicians learn something from a conductor?

Oct 10

Can politicians learn something from a conductor?

I came across this TED presentation which I found very thought provoking. If you don’t have time to listen to the entire 19 minutes, just listen for the first 3-5 minutes. In this presentation conductor, Charles Hazelwood, talks about trust as a key ingredient to the success of making music. I am in the habit of connecting seemingly unrelated things. This particular talk about trust really made me the think about politics and the current state of politics in America.

The opening words of his presentation are what really struck me:

“I am a conductor and I am here today to talk to you about trust. My job depends on it. There has to be between me and the orchestra an unshakable bond of trust, born out of mutual respect through which we can spin a musical narrative that we all believe in.”

Isn’t that really what we are looking for from our leaders? From our president? We want and need a conductor that we and the orchestra (Congress) can trust to lead us forward to the complex and elegant solutions that we need to solve our problems. We need mutual respect, something that is definitely absent from our current political process.

We’ve lost all trust – in each other, in our politicians, in the candidates running and in our president. We’ve lost all respect – for differing opinions, for the process, for the system. I don’t have the solutions but I think we’ve really got to think about and understand how we can search for a find a leader that really understands this and can build trust and common ground through mutual respect, for us to move forward.

Yes, we have many differences but we also have many things in common. Can’t we build trust by working together on those points we have in common so that we can work toward solving the more complex problems where we disagree with trusting compromise. We used to be able to do this in our country.

One of the comments he makes later in his presentation is about what happens with a conductor when there is no trust. He says, “the gestures get bigger and bigger but it doesn’t get the desired result”. This is exactly what is happening in politics today. Both parties are gesturing bigger and bigger but neither party is making any “beautiful music”.

Good leadership is all about trust. I find it interesting that there is no real interview process or basic testing for us to understand the leadership qualities of the politicians running for office. When I was an executive, leading hundreds of people, we were screened and we screened all of our leaders for basic leadership characteristics. There are many tests that are used today to unearth the hidden dynamics of a good leader. Wouldn’t it be interesting if our politicians had to take and provide results of such tests as the Myers Briggs, Firo B or Disc profile? I think this could be very helpful for us in determining what kind of leaders or non-leaders we are looking at. Not sure how to go about getting them to subject themselves to something like that. I would imagine Herman Cain or Mitt Romney have both taken some of these tests during their business careers. Those that come from non-business backgrounds like Obama or Perry probably have not. I wonder if anyone who has worked with Cain or Romney could convince them to release that information as a qualification for their leadership. Anyway, just a thought, that every local politician should have to present one – can they work in a team environment? do they have empathy? are they decisive? Ethical? Fair?

Food for thought.

Trust I wonder where you are
From our world you’ve strayed afar
Trust is something “we” have killed
But have the power to rebuild

A foundation strong and stout
That’s what trust is all about
Can we build it brick by brick?
Or are opinions just to thick?

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