An examination of musical ensembles offers insight into how ‘distributed’, or ‘plural leadership’ can work. This type of leadership, as opposed to individual or hierarchical styles can be more effective in moving organizations collectively towards shared goals.
Victoria Concordia Crescit — Victory through harmony.
What is ‘shared leadership’? How is it fostered and developed, and what insight can be taken from musicians about this phenomena? This Idea looks at the performance practices of musicians and the leadership challenges that arise in this field to explain why a single responsible leader within a hierarchical system can lead to problems within the organization.
Which of these two main streams of thought on leadership do you relate to?
The second stream is the focus of this Idea. ‘Shared’ or ‘plural’ leadership within groups relies on reflexive attitudes where individuals continually reassess relational dynamics in order to act in ways that improve the group’s ongoing welfare. This type of leadership emerges from group activities and musicians in an orchestra embody that habit of leadership as an emergent process.
Interviewing ensemble musicians has provided insights into the predispositions, preparatory work and capacities that can result in the type of leadership that can be described as ‘joint plural action.’ Let’s look at how such leadership is created in practice:
The vision of leadership proposed here is one where each of us has the possibility and responsibility of offering our own mastery in the pursuit of achieving goals worthy of such attention and energy. This type of leadership is inherently ethical in its relational orientation, as well as participative and transformative in its realization.
The insight into the world of musical performance can be applied to organizational contexts too:
Performing Leadership: Observations from the World of Music. Ralph Bathurst & Donna Ladkin. Administrative Sciences (March 2012).
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